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Number 25 




THE UNIVERSITY OF 

NORTH CAROLINA 

LIBRARY 




THE WILMER COLLECTION 

OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS 

PRESENTED BY 

RICHARD H. WILMER, JR. 



***^««tte»Tr« 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://www.archive.org/details/princesofpeeleOOwest 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE 



THE 

PRINCES OF PEELE 



BY 

WILLIAM WESTALL 

AUTHOR OF 

A QUEER RACE," "THE BLIND MUSICIAN," "THE PHANTOM CITY," 
" MR. FORTESCUE,,' ETC. 



NEW YORK 

LOVELL, CORYELL & COMPANY 

5 AND 7 EAST SIXTEENTH STERET 



COPVRIGHT, lSu2, 



UNITED STATES 6OOK COMPANY 



[.-?// righls resi'r7'e,i.\ 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER I. 

MRS. prince's presentiment. 

The hall of an old-fashioned country house. Background, 
a massive oaken staircase ; on the walls, several handsomely- 
framed prints ; a trophy, composed of a fox's mask and half 
a dozen " brushes " and stags' antlers, arranged as a hat-stand. 
In the foreground, vases filled with ferns and flowers. 

The comely couple standing in the sunlight, which streams 
in through the doorway, are the master and mistress of the 
house, Leonard Prince and Dorothy his wife. He is drawing 
on his gloves, she putting a gardenia in his buttonhole. Mrs. 
Prince is the stouter, albeit not the taller of the two, a matron 
of somewhat imposing presence, well-favored, with dark eyes 
and a fair skin. Mr. Prince, not having thickened with age 
like his spouse, looks younger than his years, which are far on 
in the fifties ; his hair and mutton-chop whiskers are turning 
white, his comely face is bright with health and high spirits, 
and his keen gray eyes, strong white teeth, and square jaws 
bespeak a vigorous constitution, a sanguine temperament, 
and an energetic character. 

" Thank you very much, my dear," says Mr. Prince as his 
wife hands him his hat, " I think I hear Tommy's step on 
the gravel. Come with me as far as the lodge gates." 

Mrs. Prince put on her garden hat, and the two went out 
together at the open door. 

Tommy, Mr. Prince's hack, an old favorite who knew his 
business so well that he always came to be mounted without 
escort, was waiting for his master. Mrs. Prince stroked his 

603306 



6 THE PKIXCKS 01- PEELE. 

neck, gave him a piece of sugar, and the three walked slowly 
down the avenue. 

Mr. Prince cast a backward longing glance at the house, 
as if he were sorry to leave it, even for the day ; and well he 
might be, for it was a glorious morning, and Holmcroft, with 
its brick walls, tiled roof, clustering ivy and rose-covered 
porch, and in its fair setting of shrubberies and gardens, never 
looked more charming and picturesque. 

" Yes, it is a dear, beautiful old place," said INIrs. Prince, 
following her husband's eye, and reading his thoughts. " Yet 
what a wilderness it was when we came here, nearly thirty 
years since." 

" So it is ; and since we were first married. We have a 
great deal to be thankful for." 

*' We have indeed. God has been very good to us, and if 
we are permitted to end our days here " 

" If I had reason to fear we should not, I think it would 
break my heart." 

" And mine. However, we need not talk about ending our 
days. Neither of us is so very old yet. You are the young- 
est man of your years in the county ; and Mr. Vayle was 
saying only the other day that you rode as straight as when 
you were thirty." 

" And you walk as straight, Dorothy. While, as for your 
looks " 

" No more ; an' thou lovest me ! You might suppose I 
w'as fishing for a compliment. Shall you be home late to- 
night ? " 

" No, Monday is generally an easy day at the office ; and 
if there isn't much doing I mean to return early and do some 
jack-fishing before dinner." 

" It seems rather a long time since we heard from Jack, 
doesn't it? " 

Mr. Prince smiled ; he was amused that his mention of 
jack-fishing should remind his wife of their eldest son ; but 
answered gravely — 

" Well, I don't know. It seems only the other day that 
you had a letter from him." 

" It is nearly three weeks since." 

" i)ear me ! How time flies ; I suppose he has been too 
busy." 

" I am sure he has not been so busy that he could not find 



THE FRIXCES OF PEELE. -j 

time to write to his mother, and I hope he is not going 

wrong again, Leonard." 

" Why should you think so ? Peploe speaks of him in the 
highest terms. He is very steady and regular, and is becoming 
quite an adept at underwriting, they say. They are quite 
willing to take him in as a junior partner next year, if I find 
two thou. I think by that time I shall be able to do it — 
with a little effort ; and I don't see why I should not. They 
are a young firm, I know, but Peploe and Pope are both 
honorable arid enterprising ; and it is a chance not to be 
missed." 

" I hope Jack will prove himself worthy of it, but my mind 
misgives me." 

" Because he has not written to you for a fortnight ? " 

" Not that only, though it is a bad sign. In his letters 
lately there has been something that I cannot define, which 
has made me very uneasy. Moreover, in my last letter to 
him, written nearly three weeks ago, I put some very pointed 
questions, which he has not thought fit to answer — another 
bad sign. And you know how facile and impulsive he is; 
and he has gone wrong before. My fear is that he may be 
running into debt. He was always a spendthrift." 

" You are over anxious, Dorothy. True, Jack has gone 
wrong before, as you say, and given us no end of trouble, but 
he has many redeeming qualities — he has never done anything 
dishonorable, nor taken to drink ; he is sharp and clever too, 
and very affectionate. Moreover, for three years his conduct 
has been quite irreproachable ; his employers speak well of 
him ; and I think we may safely conclude that he has sown 
his wild oats." 

" Well, I am perhaps mistaken. Let us say no more about 
it, and hope for the best ; and if Jack had been like Ned and 
Charlie we should have been almost too happy. One must 
have a cross, I suppose. ..... Here we are at the lodge 

gates. I shall expect you about four. Good-bye, dear." 

" Good-bye, dear," echoed Mr. Prince ; and then, after kiss- 
ing his wife, he rode off, slowly and pensively. 

" I hope I have not made Leonard unhappy with my croak- 
ing," thought Mrs. Prince to herself, as she wended up the 
avenue. " But I have had misgivings about Jack for some 
time, and I did no more than my duty in telling Leonard. It 
is not as if I had no warning for my fears. I know Jack 



8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

better than he does. His letters have not been sincere this 
month or more, and if he could have answered my queries he 
would have done so. Of that I am sure. In spite of our exhor- 
tations I fear — nay I am almost sure — that he has been get- 
ting into debt. I will write again to-day, and insist on an 
answer, and if it is not forthcoming his father shall go to 
Liverpool and see him." 

Meanwhile Mr. Prince was mentally accusing his wife of 
being fidgety, and too prone to look on the dark side of 
things. " What if Jack has been wild ? " he thought. " Many 
a young fellow who has been wild turns out well. And if 
there were anything wrong, Peploe and Pope would be sure 
to let me know. All the same, he should answer his mother's 
letters ; and when I get to the office I will write and tell him 
so." And then Mr. Prince, dismissing the subject from his 
mind, and turning Tommy on the turfy side of the road, can- 
tered gaily towards Peele. 

Jack, their eldest son, had been a trouble to his parents 
from his youth upwards. In addition to minor scrapes he 
was expelled from a public school, and after spending a term 
or two at Cambridge, ran off, worked his way in a sailing 
ship to Australia, and a few years later returned to Holmcroft, 
penitent and ashamed. The experience did him good ; his 
father thought it had wrought a radical change in his char- 
acter, and after a few months' probation at home, Mr. Prince 
got the repentant prodigal a place with Peploe and Pope, a 
Liverpool firm of ship and insurance brokers, where the 
knowledge of shipping and commerce which he had gained 
on his voyages and at Melbourne, stood him in good stead, 
and being bright and intelligent withal, and having that cap- 
city for making friends so common with most scapegraces, 
he was not long in winning the confidence of his employers, 
and obtaining a leading position in their office. 

PI is father, though greatly disappointed (he had intended 
him for the bar), laid the flattering unction to his soul that 
Jack was on the high road to fortune and would give him no 
more trouble, an opinion, however, in which, as we have seen, 
his wife did not share. 

Of their two other sons, Edward, the elder, is rounding off 
his legal education in the office of his father's London agent, 
and Charlie, in the intervals of shooting, fishing, and hunting, 
is serving his articles in the paternal establishment. 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. g 

As Mr. Prince rides up the High Street of Peele, which 
straggles over a low hill, topped by the ruins of an old castle, 
he is greeted by all and sundry. Common folks touch their 
hats to him, others nod familiarly, and say " Good-morning, 
Mr. Prince," for the master of Holmcroft is the most popular 
and influential man in the town, leading solicitor, clerk of 
the peace, clerk to the justices and board of guardians, and 
agent to Lord Hermitage, the largest land-owner in those 
parts. He has been several times mayor, and no candidate 
for suffrages of the " free and independent " burgesses of 
the borough whom he does not support has much chance of 
becoming its representative in Parliament. 

His friend, Mr. Lincoln (of the great American firm of 
Lyman, Lincoln, and Jump), who has a country seat in the 
neighborhood, calls him the " Boss of Peele." 

He is, moreover, supposed to be well off ; keeps a stud of 
hunters, lives in good style, and gives liberally to local chari- 
ties. His legal business is of the lucrative sort so much de- 
sired by solicitors — mainly conveyancing ; he is the trusted 
adviser of all the squires and farmers in the countryside, 
and save in litigious cases never had a bill taxed in his life, 
nor has he ever consented to take up an unclean case or 
accept a disreputable client. 

Mr. Prince reins up before an old-fashioned house in the 
High Street, throws his right leg over his horse's withers and 
drops lightly on the pavement. On this. Tommy goes off to 
his stable, and his master walks briskly into his office, the 
old-fashioned house aforesaid. The brass plate on the door 
bears the inscription — 

*' Prince and Prince, Solicitors." 



The Princes in question were Mr. Leonard Prince's father 
and uncle, to whose business he succeeded many years pre- 
viously. They have been long dead, but he likes to keep up 
the old style, the more especially as he has good reason to 
believe that his sons will succeed him in turn, and the firm 
become, in reality as in name, " Prince and Prince " once 
more. 

After looking in at the general ofiice and the estate office, 
and seeing that all the clerks are at work, and bidding them 



10 THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. 

good-morning, Mr. Prince enters his own room, where he is 
presently joined by Mr. Lillywhite, his managing clerk, 

A queer-looking gentleman was Mr. Lillywhite. People 
said he had the longest head in all Peele. He had certainly 
the biggest nose ; and it was the only part of his face which 
blushed or otherwise showed emotion, the rest of his visage 
being as sallow and expressionless as a piece of his own parch- 
ment. The nose, however, was all expression. It moved 
when he talked, wobbled when he laughed, and trembled when 
he swore. Its hue changed with the days of the week. On 
a Monday morning it was terra cotta red ; by Wednesday it 
toned down to light purple, on Saturday it was generally light 
blue. These remarkable variations were conceiveably due to 
the fact that Mr. Lillywhite made a rule of drinking a bottle 
of old port with his Sunday dinner, and with his other dinners 
only beer. The managing clerk was further distinguished by 
the length of his body and the phenomenal bareness of his 
face and head, the only hair of which he could boast being a 
single yellow tuft on the top of his cranium, which he humor- 
ously called his scalp lock. 

" Anything new this morning, Lillywhite ? " asked Mr. 
Prince as he opened his letters. 

" Nothing particular. Mr. Jumper called. He wants 
another will making." 

" The deuce he does ! Why, that will be the second this 
year, won't it ? " 

" The third. He is a good man, Mr. Jumper, always think- 
ing about his latter end. However, it amuses him and pays 
us. This is a free country and a man has a right to make as 
many wills as he likes." 

" Well, prepare the draft, and let him have it at once. Has 
anybody else called ? " 

" A gentleman who seemed rather anxious to see you. He 
was here when I came. Said he would call again shortly, 
but refused to give his name." 

" A stranger then .'' " 

" He must be ; I never saw him before." 

" Probably a commercial traveller, who wants to recover a 
debt for his house." 

" I don't think so. He does not look like one. Besides, 
in that case he would have told me his business. Shall I 
send him in to you if he comes again ? " 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. II 

" By all means." 

"Well, I think I'll go and prepare this draft. It will be 
little more than a copy of the previous will, with a few varia- 
tions." 

Whereupon jNIr. Lillywhite withdrew ; but the door had 
hardly closed behind him when he was back again. 

" Here he is, Mr. Prince," he whispered. "Just come in 

at the front door This way, sir. Mr. Prince has 

arrived." 

And then there entered a tall red-haired gentleman in a 
tweed travelling suit, closely followed by the managing clerk. 

" God bless me, Mr. Peploe ! " exclaimed Mr. Prince, 
rising from his chair with a look of blank surprise. " How 
are you ? " 

" As well as can be expected, thank you, seeing that I have 
been travelling all night. Could I have a word with you, Mr. 
Prince ? " (glancing at Lillywhite). 

The head clerk took the hint and withdrew a second 
time. 

" Peploe, Peploe," he murmured, " Peploe and Pope. 
One of Jack's masters. What's up now, I wonder ? " 

" Pray take a seat, Mr. Peploe," said Mr. Prince seriously, 
for he thought of his wife, and feared that this visit boded 
no good. Peploe was a busy man. It was no light cause 
that brought him all the way from Liverpool to Peele. 
" How did you leave Jack ? " 

" I did not leave him at all. He left us." 

" Left you ? How, Mr. Peploe t " 

" In the lurch. You will excuse mybluntness, Mr. Prince. 
But I have neither time nor inclination just now to beat about 
the bush. I must come to the point at once. Your son has 
robbed us — that is why I am here to-day." 

Mr, Prince turned as white as a sheet, and fell back in his 
chair as if he had been struck. 

" Robbed you ! No, no, Mr. Peploe ! That is impos- 
sible. Jack may have been a Httle wild and extravagant, 
perhaps, but not dishonest, don't say he has been dis- 
honest." 

" I wish to God he had not. But there, see for your- 
self." 



12 THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER II. 

peploe's proposal. 

ISIr. Peploe took from his pocket-book two documents 
and laid them on Mr. Prince's desk. 

One was a wildly incoherent letter from Jack, in which, 
with many expressions of contrition, the writer acknowl- 
edged having abused his employers' confidence and '' taken " 
a large sum of money — lost on the Stock Exchange and 
betting — he must have been mad, but he would pay them 
back every penny, so help him God, he would. He ended 
by begging them to say nothing to his father. 

The other document was to the following effect : — 

" Private and Confidential. 
" Messrs. Peploe and Pope, 

" Dear Sirs, — I have gone through your books and find 
that the defalcations directly traceable to Mr. John Prince 
amount to the sum of 19,450/, i^s. 6ci. — Yours truly, Henry 
Tanner, Accountant." 

Mr. Prince gazed at these letters like one fascinated, 
and his hand trembled so that he could scarcely hold 
them. He knew from the first that Peploe was the bearer 
of bad news ; but the reality surpassed his worst fore- 
bodings. His eldest son a felon and a fugitive from justice ! 
He would rather have heard that Jack had died by his own 
hand. Yet, even in that moment of unspeakable mental 
anguish Leonard Prince's first thought was of his wife. 
"What would she say? How would she bear it? How 
should he tell her ? " he asked himself. 

" But you — how ? " he said at length in a husky voice. 

" I know what you mean," answered Mr. Peploe. "You 
mean how came we to let him rob us to the tune of nearly 
twenty thousand pounds ? \\'ell, we were fools, there is no 



THE PRINCES OF PEE I.E. 



13 



doubt about that, people are fools sometimes. But he got on 
the blind side of us — that's a fact. And it never occurred to 
us that such a bright, seemingly straightforv/ard young fellow, 
so respectably connected, too, could be otherwise than honest. 
The worst of it is that it is not our money that he has 
taken." 

" Not your own money." 

" No, it is clients' money. You know the nature of our 
business. We underwrite the names of a number of friends 
to policies, and the accumulated premiums form a fund for 
the payment of losses. If the premiums exceed the losses 
the profit goes to the underwriters, less our commission ; if 
the losses exceed the premiums the underwriters have to make 
up the difference. We have the handling of the money, which 
we invest on the best terms we can obtain, compatible with 
good security. Latterly this branch of the business has been 
managed by your son, under our directions. I am afraid, 
though, we did not look as sharply after him as we should 
have done. But as I said just now, we never thought that a 
man so respectably connected, and of whom we thought so 
highly that we were going to take him into partnership, 
Avould go wrong. He was so diligent, too, and regular in 
his attendance at the office — would not even take a holiday. 
I know why, now. If he had he would have been found out. 

" Well, last Saturday he went yachting with some friends, 
and intended to be back on Sunday night or Monday morning, 
but the yacht got into trouble off the Welsh coast, and Prince 
did not turn up at the office on Monday. Now, it so happened, 
that on the same day I received notice of several claims ; also 
I heard that a steamer in which we were rather largely 
interested had come to grief in the Channel. Knowing we 
should want money, and a lot of it — when claims are concerned 
it never rains but it pours — I called at a bank where we had, 
or rather should have had, ten thousand pounds on deposit, 
and gave notice of withdrawal. I was told that nearly half of 
it had already been withdrawn in various amounts and at 
intervals extending over several weeks. Though surprised I 
was not alarmed. I merely thought that Prince had changed 
the investment for some good reason, and blamed him only 
for not informing me. But when I found that the books 
contained no entry of the withdrawals, the possibility of 
something being wrong dawned on my mind. As the day 



14 THE PRINCES OE FEELE. 

went on my uneasiness increased, and as soon as I could get 
away from the office I called at your son's lodgings. He had 
not returned. In the course of the evening I called three 
times, always with the same result. 

" When I called again next morning, I learned that he did 
not return till midnight, and must have left shortly after- 
wards. At any rate, he had not been in bed. My visits had 
alarmed him, perhaps, also, he heard of the loss of the 
' Cyclops,' and knew that, in view of our financial require- 
ments, his frauds could no longer be concealed. Anyhow, I 
have not seen him since last Saturday. That note came by 
post." 

" The wretched, misguided boy," groaned Mr. Prince. 
" Have you any idea where he is ? " 

" Well, I am afraid I could not give you his correct address 
at this moment. But I don't doubt that if I tried I could lay 
my hands on him." 

In saying this Mr. Peploe went rather beyond the mark. 
He had not the faintest idea what was become of Jack, but it 
did not just then suit his purpose to say so. 

" Do you propose to prosecute .'' " asked Mr. Prince, in a 
voice which showed how much the effort cost him. 

" Well, that depends on circumstances. We might, you 
know. Your son has behaved shamefully, there is no doubt 
about that. We trusted him and he has betrayed us. All the 
same, we have no wish to go to extremities, and if we could 
be met " 

" If you could be met. Pray be explicit, Mr. Peploe," said 
Mr. Prince, looking as if he had no idea what the other was 
driving at, though he knew only too well. 

" Explicit ! Oh, yes, I will be explicit. It is very easy to 
be explicit in an affair of this sort. As I remarked just now, 
we have no desire to prosecute. But unless we can have 
fifteen thousand pounds within the next four days — say by 
next Tuesday, at the latest — we must pull up, and then every- 
thing will be exposed, and we shall be forced to hunt your son 
down and prosecute him, if only for our own justification ; 
and as it is a case of forgery as well as embezzlement, we 
can fetch him back from America, or anywhere else, if he 
goes out of the country." 

" Forgery ! Good heavens ! " 

" Yes, it is mostly embezzlement, but there are one or two 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



IS 



undoubted cases of forgery. It would be a terrible scandal 
for all of us. But if we can be met, nobody need be the wiser. 
Tanner is sworn to secrecy, so to speak, and you may be 
sure we won't split. If this got wind we should lose half our 
underwriters, and our credit would be ruined. Can you find 
us fifteen thousand pounds between this and next Tuesday, 
Mr. Prince ? I am not in a position to make any promises 
about paying you back ; we shall have to lose nearly five 
thousand ourselves, and we are only a young firm, but we 
would try to pay you a moderate interest. What do you say, 
Mr. Prince, will you do it .'' " 

" It is not a quesion of will, Mr. Peploe, I am grieved 
beyond measure, I am unspeakably humiliated that a son of 
mine should have done you this wrong. It adds to my grief 
that his wrong-doing may entail your ruin, but I cannot do 
what you wish." 

Peploe's saturnine face flushed with anger and disappoint- 
ment. 

" That means you won't," he exclaimed angrily. " I know 
fifteen thousand is a big lump. But just consider the con- 
sequences of your refusal. Our ruin is a minor consideration. 
\\'e should have looked better after our business, I admit ; 
but having regard to the circumstances, I don't think the 
creditors will be very hard on us. They will let us make a 
fresh start. But think of your son in a felon's dock, he is 
sure to get ten years at least ; think of the scandal it will 
cause. You are a great man here, I am told. How will you 
look your townsmen in the face when they know that your 
eldest son " 

" Mind what you say, sir, or ," exclaimed Mr. Prince, 

springing from his chair, as if he were minded to resent the 
insult with a blow or show the insulter to the door. 

Then he sank down and bowed his head. The man had 
only spoken the truth. 

" You feel it keenly. I knew you would. What father 
would not," returned Peploe soothingly. " All the more 
reason for letting us have this money. It will be well laid out, 
and we are asking nothing unreasonable ; we will pay you in- 
terest. My partner said to me the last thing before I came away 
— ' Be sure,' he said, ' you don't ask the old gentleman any- 
thing unreasonable, Sam. It is not hush-money we want, 
only help.' " 



1 6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Mr. Prince winced. He prided himelf on the comparative 
youthfulness of his appearance, and it went against the grain 
to know that these Liverpool people spoke of him as " the 
old gentleman." 

" Reasonable or unreasonable, I am unable to do it, Mr. 
Peploe," he returned sharply. " I don't say I would not if I 
could. But as I unfortunately don't happen to have fifteen 
thousand pounds in my pocket or at my bankers " 

" I did not suppose you had, Mr. Prince. But there are 
ways and means. A gentleman in your position could easily 
raise as much. Anyhow, I should think so." 

" Not in four or five days." 

" We might, perhaps, make it seven." 

" Not in seven, nor in fourteen days." 

" In that case there is nothing more to be said," observed 
Peploe, rising from his chair ; " things must take their course, 
I suppose." 

Mr. Prince made no answer. It seemed useless to prolong 
the interview, and he wanted Peploe to go. He was beginning 
to hate the man, and he wanted to be alone. 

" Things must take their course, I suppose," repeated the 
persistent Liverpudlian. " But, perhaps, you may tliink 
better of it after all ; and if you do — if you see your way — 
you will, perhaps, be good enough to telegraph to our office 
in Liverpool. We won't take any action before Friday, but 
the sooner the better. One word will do — ' Arranged,' 
We shall understand." 

" I can hold out no encouragement, Mr. Peploe, none 
whatever. Nevertheless, if I should see my way I will 
telegraph, as you say." 

Peploe's countenance brightened. Like drowning men, 
the financially embarrassed catch at straws, and, though fairly 
considered, the lawyer's concluding observation offered little 
ground for hope, Peploe went away comforted, and little 
doubting that on his arrival at Liverpool he should find 
awaiting him the telegram whose despatch he had suggested. 

When the door closed behind his visitor, Mr. Prince leaned 
back in his chair, and wiped the perspiration from his brow. 
He had undergone the most painful experience of his life, 
and there was worse in store. How should he break the news 
to his wife ? If he could spare her he would. But it was 
impossible. Know she must. In a week the secret would be 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



17 



out. For though he had not liked to say so in express terms, 
it was as much out of his power to find fifteen thousand 
pounds in four days, or four months, as to find fifty thousand. 
-Contrary to the general belief, a belief which he rather 
encouraged, Mr. Prince was not rich. He had a good income, 
and he lived up to it. Beyond the two or three thousand 
pounds which he employed in his business for temporary 
advances to his clients, and so forth, and which he could 
neither well spare nor immediately realize, he had very little 
laid by. He had always looked on his business as an estate 
which he could bequeath to his sons as his father had 
bequeathed it to him. His wife was provided for by a 
marriage settlement and a policy of insurance on his life. 
He had not thought it necessary to economize, and though 
not a thriftless man, it gave him less pleasure to accumulate 
than to spend. But now he bitterly regretted that he had 
not been more provident ; for he would gladly have paid 
twice, nay thrice, fifteen thousand pounds, to avert the 
disaster with which he was threatened. 

Only a few days, and, as Peploe said, he would be unable 
to look his neighbors in the face. The hue and cry after 
Jack ; the story of his defalcations told in every paper in the 
land ; the trial and sentence (for he was sure to be taken) ; 
the consternation of friends, the exultation of the envious ; 
the joy of political opponents ; all this was torture, even in 
the thought. What would it be in the reality .-• 

Moreover, the scandal could hardly fail to injure his business 
and imperil his position, and Mr. Prince valued his position 
hardly less than he valued his life. Better leave Peele alto- 
gether. And yet leaving Peele would be the end of the world. 
There was no other spot in it where, for him and his, life would 
be worth living. 

A knock at the door. 

" Come in," said Mr. Prince, taking a paper at random from 
the pile before him. 

When Mr. Lillywhite entered the room his principal was 
deep in the perusal of counsel's opinion in the matter of 
" Towzler v. Towzler and another." 

" Oh, Mr. Peploe is gone, then," said the managing clerk, 
with well affected surprise ; for he had heard Peploe's 
departing footsteps. 

" Yes, he is gone. What is it ? Anything new .? " 

2 



l8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Only that Hutchins wants ten or twelve thousand pounds 
on the security of his Tanfield property. It is worth half as 
much again, and as he will pay five per cent, and execute a 
mortgage for five years I thought it would be an excellent 
investment for some of Mrs. Lincoln's money." 

" Mrs. Lincoln's money is very well where it is. You can- 
not beat Consols for safety, and one or two per cent, makes 
no difference to her." 

" That is true. All the same, the transfer would make 
good business for the office. Hutchins would stand a 
'procuration fee,' and investigating titles and drawing the 
mortgage, and what not, would make a nice penny." 

" Right you are, Lillywhite. You have always an eye to 
the main chance. If I had not you to look after details it 
it would not be the office it is by a long way. Yes, the 
transfer would make something nice, and lawyers live on 
costs I have heard say." 

" Two hundred pounds, at the very least." 

" All the same, you must bear in mind, my dear Lillywhite, 
that now Wilmot is dead I am Mrs. Lincoln's sole trustee, 
and must take the whole responsibility ; and really, you know, 
I hardly like to change the investment, merely to oblige old 
Hutchins and put money in my own pocket." 

" It won't be merely to put money in your own pocket. 
It will put money into Mrs. Lincoln's pocket, to the tune of 
a hundred and thirty or forty pounds a year." 

" The Lincolns are so rich, Lillywhite, that they think less 
of a hundred pounds than I do of six and eightpence ; and 
I have no doubt that if I were to mention it to Mrs. Lincoln 
she would say — ' leave the money where it is. A trustee 
cannot be too particular ; and my position is all the more 
delicate in that I am both her trustee and her solicitor. And 
so long as I keep the money where it was from the first, 
nobody can find fault with me. However, I will think about 
it, and look at the trust deed again before deciding. I have 
not read it for years, and it rather runs in my mind that I am 
restricted to Consols." 

" Tanfield farm is quite as safe, Mr. Prince." 

" Perhaps. Anyhow I am not going to infringe the trusts 
of the settlement either to make business for the office or to 
oblige Mr. Hutchins. I suppose it will do if he gets his 
answer next week ? " 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



19 



" Oh, yes. He is in no hurry ; and if we don't find him 
the money he can easily get it elsewhere. Anything else, sir ? " 

" I think notj" and Mr. Prince turned again to the paper 
before him. 

Lillywhite took this as a sign of dismissal, and went away 
greatly dissatisfied that he had failed to find out the cause 
of Peploe's visit, and the nature of his business. He liked 
to know, and flattered himself that he did know, everything 
that went on in the office, and a good deal that went on out- 
side. There was no end of secrets locked up in that long 
head of his ; never before had his employer kept anything 
from him, and, considering his position in the office and 
his many years of faithful service, he felt that he was being 
badly used. 

What did it all mean ? Why had Peploe come all the 
way from Liverpool ? What had passed during his long 
interview with the governor, and, above all, why was the 
governor so close ? For years there had not been a difficult 
or delicate case in the office as to which Mr. Prince had not 
consulted him, and, as often as not, taken his advice. 

" Well, if he won't tell me, I must find it out for myself, 
he thought. " I must find it out, and it is a queer case 
that Andrew Lillywhite cannot 'bottom.' " 



20 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER III. 

SOWING THE WIND. 

During the remainder of the day Mr. Prince had little 
leisure for thought. Several important clients called ; he was 
sent for to the Town Hall ; the second post brought him letters 
which required immediate attention ; and when he mounted 
his nag for the ride home the clock of St. Dunstan was 
chiming six. 

It was a fine evening. The park-like country before him, 
with its sparkling meads, silvery streams, and hedgerows 
white with hawthorn, looked exquisitely beautiful. Spring 
had cast her magic spell over the land ; larks were carolling 
joyously in the upper air ; and the red sun was dipping slowly 
towards the empurpled shades of the distant forest. 

But all these sights and sounds, all this glory of nature, 
were lost on Leonard Prince. There was no sunshine in his 
heart. It was heavy with grief and pain. For the first time 
in his life he was battling in deep waters. Never before had 
he gone home reluctantly, never before looked forward to 
meeting his wife with apprehension and fear. 

For the hundredth time he asked himself how he should 
tell her the evil news, tell her that their eldest son was a 
forger, thief, and a fugitive from justice, and that in a few 
days his shame and their own would be published on the 
house-tops ? And how would she bear it — she who was more 
sensitive on the point of honor than himself, whose pride 
was even greater than his own, and who had lavished so much 
love and tenderness on this unworthy boy ? 

" It has to be faced," he murmured ; " the sooner I get it 
over the better." 

So soon as he was cleared of the town he touched Tommy 
with his heel, and the gallant little horse stepped out to such 
purpose that in less than twenty minutes he was at the Holm- 
croft lodge-gates. 



THE PRINCES OF TEELE. 21 

As ISIr. Prince pulled up at the hall door, his \vife crossed 
the lawn with a bunch of freshly-gathered flowers in her 
hand. 

"How about the fishing?" she said, smiling pleasantly. 
" I thought you were coming home early to try for some 
jack ! " 

" Fishing ! Well, do you know I forgot all about it — never 
thought of it since." 

" You have been busy, then ? " 

" All day. Every minute occupied. Had to see the Mayor 
and the Watch Committee about an impending lawsuit ; long 
conference with Thornwood touching that disputed water- 
right, and I don't know what besides." 

" You look fagged, and your eyes are troubled. You are 
more than fagged, you are worried. What is it, Leonard t 
Nothing has gone wrong, I hope." 

" Yes, Dorothy, something has gone very wrong. But come 
into my room, dear. We can talk there more at our ease, 
and without being observed or overheard." 

He led the way, and she followed him in silent surprise. 
The style and furnishing of Mr. Prince's room were in har- 
mony with its owner's tastes and pursuits. On the writing- 
table law papers neatly tied and docketed, on the walls 
trophies of the chase, and engravings of celebrated horses 
and scenes in the hunting-field ; fishing-rods in one corner, 
a gun rack in another. 

Mr. Prince drew up a chair for his wife, then seated 
himself by her side, and took her hand. 

All this preparation and the gravity of her husband's 
manner naturally alarmed Mrs. Prince. 

" Good heavens, Leonard ! " she gasped. " What is it ? 
The boys ! Has Are they well ? Tell me quickly." 

" I believe so. I have heard nothing to the contrary. 
But there are w^orse things than not being well. You have 
high courage and you will need it." 

Mrs. Prince drew a deep breath. 

" Go on, please. Don't keep me in suspense. I can 
bear anything but that." 

" You remember what 3'ou said this morning about Jack, 
that you feared he was going wrong. I did not share in your 
fears. But you were right. He has gone wrong, fearfully 
wrong " 



22 THE nUXCES OF PEELE. 

" Oh, Leonard ! \A'hat has he done? " 

" Robbed his employers of nearly twenty thousand pounds 
and absconded." 

Mrs. Prince neither exclaimed nor turned pale ; she looked 
dazed and bewildered, as if the stroke had stunned her, and 
she was unable to grasp the full significance of her husband's 
words. Then drawing a long breath, and putting her 
hands before her eyes she remained silent several minutes. 
Mr, Prince, who had expected a scene, watched her anxiously. 

" Did you understand, Dorothy ? " he said at length, again 
taking her hand. 

" Oh yes, I understood, perfectly. This boy of ours — the 
first I bore you, Leonard — this boy by whom we set such 
store, whom we have helped so generously and forgiven so 
often, has played the thief, and will engulfus in his own ruin. 
Is this all, Leonard ? " 

" All, Dorothy ! Good God, what would you have ? Yes, it 
is all." 

" He has not been arrested .-' " 

" Not yet." 

" You think he will be, then ? " 

" I am sure. Peploe says that unless I can find fifteen 
thousand pounds within the next five or six days they will 
put the police on his track, and if they do the odds are a 
thousand to one against his escape." 

" Tell me all about it." 

Mr. Prince told her of Peploe's visit and his demand. 

" The money must be found, Leonard." 

"Must! Must!" he said bitterly, "It is easy to say 
must. But how? Tell me how? You know that I have not 
fifteen thousand pounds in the world, or anything like it." 

" Cannot you borrow it ? " 

" No. What security can I offer ? The bank would let 
me have two or three thousand, I daresay, but that would be 
of no more use than two or three hundred. These people 
want fifteen thousand by next Friday, at the latest," 

" Mr. Lincoln ? " 

" I doubt whether Mr. Lincoln would lend me a thousand 
pounds, rich as he is, and he starts for Liverpool to-morrow 
morning, eti route for New York. I don't see how I could 
raise this money though I had a respite of six months instead 
of six days. It cannot be done, I wish it could." 



THE riUXCES OF PEELE. 



-'3 



" It shall be done. It must be done. . . , Have I been a 
good wife to you, Leonard Prince .'' " 

" Why do you ask so strange a question, Dorothy } You 
know that I love the very ground you tread on." 

" Have I been a good mother to your children ? " 

" Ask them. Even Jack ; but w^hy " 

" Well, I would rather give up my life, I w^ould rather 
follow you to the grave, I would rather see Jack lying dead 
at my feet than that this disgrace should befall us. Do you 
realize the horror of it ? " 

" To the full. A great misfortune has come upon us, and 
we are threatened with a disaster which I see no way of 
averting." 

Mrs. Prince wrung her hands, and her white lips twisted 
convulsively. " It must be averted. There is a way," she 
exclaimed wildly. "You are a man of business. I would do 
anything, anything. If you love me, think of something, for 
if the worst happens I shall either die or go mad." 

He leaned his head on his hand, made a desperate effort 
to compose himself, and obey his wife's injunction to " think 
of something." 

When he looked up she placed her hand on his shoulder. 

" You have thought of something," she said eagerly, " what 
is it .' " 

It was a terrible moment for Leonard Prince, He had 
inherited from his father a healthy body, a sane mind, 
and a nature so happily organized that it cost him no effort 
to do right. And he had always been dominated by a desire 
to do right. Never in his life had he pal*^ered with his 
honor or abused the confidence of a client, nor was there any 
class of men for whom he had so great a contempt as chicaning 
lawyers and defaulting trustees. He w'as a strongman, too, 
with a clear head and a rare capacity for facing and over- 
coming difficulties. But there was a weak point in his 
armor — he loved his wife with hardly less ardor than when 
they were first wed — and though she was the weaker of the 
two, love gave her a power over him which he was unable to 
withstand. Left to himself, or less passionately entreated, he 
would never have thought of so fatal an expedient as that 
which had occurred to him. He would have braved the storm 
and lived down the scandal which the revelation of his son's 
misconduct would have caused. But with that pale, drawn 



24 THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 

face bex'ore him, with those dear beseeching eyes raised to 
his in agonized suspense what could he do, how help himself ? 

" You have thought of something," she repeated. " What 
is it ? Tell me, Leonard. Tell me at once," 

" I have thought of something, only " 

" What .? " 

" It would not be right." 

"But what is it.?" 

Again Mr. Prince hesitated, and then slowly, and almost 
in a whisper, as if he feared the walls might hear him, he 
answered — 

" It is this. I am the sole surviving trustee under Mrs. 
Lincoln's marriage settlement. The entire fund, fifteen 
thousand pounds, is invested in Consols. It stands in my 
name, and I could turn it into cash within twenty-four 
hours." 

" Thank God ! Oh, Leonard, why did not you tell me 
this sooner? It would have saved me — words cannot tell 
the agony it would have saved me." 

" Because I did not think of it sooner. Remember this is 
not my money, Dorothy." 

" I am sure Mrs. Lincoln would lend it to you." 

" She has no power to lend it. The corpus, the principal, 
cannot be dealt with till she is dead and her youngest child 
is twenty-one. Remember, too, that my position is very 
peculiar. I am both her solicitor and her trustee. When 
Wilmot died, she might have appointed another in his place. 
But she put so much trust in me that she would not. It is 
owing to her generous, her excessive confidence, that I have 
the sole control of the fund, and if I were to use it for my 
own purposes, what would she think of me ; what should I 
think of myself ? " 

" I would not wrong Mrs. Lincoln for the world. We 
should pay her back every shilling," broke in Mrs. Prince, 
impetuously. " Every shilling ! And though it is a little 
irregular, consider the alternative." 

" I have considered the alternative ; and as for reinstating 
the fund, that would not be so easy as you think. Fifteen 
thousand is a great deal of money." 

"We will economize. We can save several hundreds a 
year without perceptibly altering our style of living. Edward 
is keeping himself ; there is only Charlie on our hands, and 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 25 

with care and good management we can make the amount 
up in a few years." 

" You forget one thing, Dorothy. We are all mortal, and 
if anything should happen to me, you and the boys would be 
in a terrible difficulty. Mrs. Lincoln would then be obliged 
to appoint another trustee, and exposure and disgrace would 
be inevitable. You would have to confess that I had mis- 
appropriated the trust fund. Everything would come out." 

If Mr. Prince thought that this argument would induce his 
wife to renounce the scheme which he had so unfortunately 
suggested he was mistaken. 

" You might insure your life, and then Mrs. Lincoln would 
be safe in any event," she said after a short pause. " You 
will do it, Leonard, won't you? Say you will do it, and 
relieve me from this dreadful suspense. It is to save the 
family honor. Where should we hide our heads if it were 
all made known, and Jack put on his trial. You said only 
this morning that it would break your heart to leave Holm- 
croft. For my sake and Edward's and Charles's, if not for 
your own, you will do it, dear. And Jack himself, he is our 
own boy, after all, and dear to me still. Think of him under- 
going a term of penal servitude ! It would be his ruin, here 
and hereafter. Oh, think of it ! Why should you hesitate ? 
While you live the money will be at your disposal, and when 
you die it will be paid by the insurance — unless we save it in 
the meantime — and I feel sure you will live so long that we 
shall. You are not an old man yet. You will, won't you, 
dear?" And she took both his hands in hers, and looked at 
him pitifully with tear-filled eyes. 

"Adam and Eve over again," thought Mr. Prince. " But 
it is my own fault ; I gave her the idea. 

" Very well, Dorothy, it shall be as you wish," he said sadly. 
" I only hope the remedy won't prove worse than the disease." 

" I am sure it won't, Leonard. Thank Heaven ! I can 
breathe now. I should have gone mad. You will insure your 
life ? " 

" My own life and the lads' lives. They are to be my 
partners ; and it is a common thing for partners to insure 
each other's lives. It will add to the value of the security. 
In that way Mrs. Lincoln will, as you say, be practically as 
safe as if the money remained in Consols, provided, of course, 
I keep up the payment of the premiums, and that I must and 



26 THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. 

can do, though it will come very heavy. I shall try to make 
Peploe and Pope pay five per cent, even though they never 
repay the principal — and, yes, I will give up my shooting in 
Scotland. I can easily say that I have not time for both that 
and hunting. It is irregular, very irregular, there is no deny- 
ing that, but the emergency is a desperate one, and if Mrs. Lin- 
coln does not suffer — and with the arrangements I shall make 
I don't see how she can — we shall have notjiing much to 
reproach ourselves with." 

This was rather an expression of hope than conviction ; 
he knew that if anybody else had done what he was proposing 
to do he should have characterized the proceeding by a very 
ugly word, and though he was trying to make the best of it, 
and to make believe that no harm could come of it, he had 
an uneasy feeling that harm would come of it in some way not 
then apparent either to himself or his wife. She, however, 
had no misgivings. Albeit so honest that she would not have 
plucked a flower in Mrs. Lincoln's garden without asking per- 
mission, it did not seem to her that in urging her husband to 
take that lady's money and use it for his own purpose, with- 
out her knowledge, she had done anything reprehensible. 
Leonard was merely borrowing it, she argued ; the measures 
he was taking would ensure its eventual repayment, and all 
would be well. 

" When will you send the money to Liverpool ? " she asked. 

" I shall not send it — I shall take it. I must have a 
thorough understanding with Messrs. Peploe and Pope, and 
if possible, get some security from them before I part with 
any money." 

" But suppose they have Jack arrested before you get 
there ? " 

" I shall telegraph them in the morning that I am coming." 

" I wonder what has become of him, Leonard .-• Where 
can he be ? " 

" That does not concern me at present. I only hope he is 
far enough, and that we may hear nothing of him again for a 
long time — if ever." 

" Oh, Leonard ! you hope never to hear of Jack again ! 
Why ? " 

" Because we are not likely to hear any good of him. When 
a man goes so utterly to the bad as he has done, he is gener- 
ally past praying for. Before this last affair I had more faith 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 27 

in him tlian you had ; now I have none whatever. The best 
thing for him to do, though I doubt whether he will have the 
sense and resolution to do it, is to go to America or one of 
the colonies, begin a new career, earn an honest livelihood, 
and stay there until his misdeeds are forgotten. I hope it 
won't turn out that he has victimized other people besides 
Peploe and Pope." 

" God forbid, Leonard ! Why should you think so .'' " 

" Because a man who is capable of robbing his employers 
and deceiving his parents is capable of anything. It is one 
of the points I must inquire about when I am at Liverpool." 

" Will you tell the boys ? " 

" Not Charlie — except that Jack has behaved badly and 
gone away, we know not whither, and the less that is said 
about him the better. But Edward must know everything." 

" Why Edward and not Charlie ? " 

" There is no need to lay on the lad's shoulders so heavy 
a burden. Let him enjoy his life while he is young. But 
either Edward or Lillywhite must know, and faithful though 
Lill)avhite is, I don't want to put myself in his power. I shall 
have to deal with Peploe and Pope on the one hand and Mrs. 
Lincoln on the other. Her dividends will have to be paid 
just as if the trust fund was still invested in Consols, the in- 
terest from Peploe and Pope will have to be collected as may 
be arranged, and the insurance premiums regularly paid. 
All this must be done without hitch and unknown to every- 
body in the office but ourselves. It is only by taking Edward 
into my confidence that I can make sure that in the event of 
m}^ illness or absence there will be no difiiculty, for a hitch 
might be fatal. And Ned has an old head on young 
shoulders." 

" Yes, Edward is very good. But all this is very, very sad. 
Oh, Leonard," said Mrs. Prince, sighing deeply, "shall v^^e 
ever know content again .? " 

" We may. Anyhow, I know people who have very ugly 
skeletons in their cupboards, and yet laugh and joke, dine 
with appetite, and ride as merrily to hounds as if they had 
nothing on their minds. Use is second nature, they say ; 
and we shall perhaps get so used to our particular skeleton 
that its presence in the cupboard won't trouble us — very 
much." 

This assurance, though it may have answered its intended 



28 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

purpose of comforting Mrs. Prince, neither allayed her hus- 
band's apprehensions nor quieted his conscience. No 
amount of sophistry could reconcile his trained intelligence 
and essentially upright mind to the gross breach of trust 
which he contemplated, or render him oblivious to the fact 
that he was about to lay on his soul a burden of which only 
death could relieve him. But the alternative : a broken- 
hearted wife, a frightful scandal, and a convict son, had 
even greater terrors, and he chose, as he thought, the lesser 
evil. 

On the following day, after telling Lillywhite that he had 
decided to decline Hutchins' proposed mortgage, Mr. Prince 
went to London, and thence to Liverpool, where he arranged 
matters with Peploe and Pope as satisfactorily as so bad a 
business could be arranged. Shortly afterwards, however, 
what he had feared came to pass. It was discovered that Jack 
had not confined his depredations to his employers. He had 
discounted a forged bill with his private bankers. But as 
there was reason to believe that he had left the country for 
parts unknown, the bankers decided not to throw good money 
after bad by trying to hunt him down. Nevertheless, they 
were very wroth, declined an offer from Mr. Prince to make 
the amount good, and intimated that in the event of the cul- 
prit returning to England they should consider it their duty 
to prosecute him. 

But none of these things oozed out at Peele. The people 
of that rather sleepy old town were quite satisfied with the 
only explanation which the Princes vouchsafed to them : 
that Jack, having got into debt and lost his billet at Liver- 
pool, had betaken himself to America, there to make a fresh 
start. 



THE PKIiYCES OF PEELE. 



29 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE BROTHERS. 

One of the last days of October, a still air and a dappled 
sky, a veil of silver mist mellowing yet not obscuring the 
sunlight, two horsemen riding along a deep lane, over- 
shadowed by trees, from whose half nude branches russet- 
colored leaves, heavy with dew, are falling noiselessly to 
their mother earth. 

The two men wear costumes suitable either for road or field 
— breeches, leggings, gray coats, and felt hats — one has spurs 
but no hunting crop, the other a hunting crop but no spurs. 

The rider with spurs is three or four years under thirty — 
tall, slightly built, swarthy and clean shaven. He has dark 
intelligent eyes and good looks, but his skin is sallow, his 
face that of a man who does not live much in the open air. 

His companion, younger by several years, and not quite 
so tall, has laughing brow)i eyes, brown hair, and a brown face, 
to which a silky moustache with naturally curled points gives 
a somewhat rakish, devil-may-care air. 

This young fellow is Charlie Prince ; the other, Edward — 
generally called " Ned " by his family and familiar friends. 

" Do you expect any sport to-day t " asked the elder 
brother. 

" Not much, but we shall at any rate have the pleasure of 
riding about in the forest, which is never so beautiful as at 
this time. I would rather go with the foxhounds, of course. 
But regular hunting hasn't begun yet, and this week's cubbing 
fixtures are all long ones. You can never tell what may 
happen with Mr. Vayle's harriers. This should be a good 
scenting-day, and if we have the luck to find a straight run- 
ning fox " 

" A fox." 

" Why not ? The foxhounds always fight shy of the 
forest — if they once get in they never get out — and if the 



30 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

harriers chance to rouse a long tail they will do good service 
by running him. Last season we found a fox in Silverwood. 
Spinney ran him " 

" Spare me, Charlie," interrupted Edward with a laugh, 
*' It is a thrice-told tale. The day we dined at Cherry-Tree 
Hall that run was discussed a full hour by the clock. And 
do not imagine that I am pining for an heroic run. I am not 
a keen sportsman like you and father ; and I have ridden so 
little lately that I should be all abrasions. I shall be quite 
content with a little tittuping through the rides, or a canter 
across Thornwood Plain — if by good fortune we do get into 
the open — and whatever happens, I shall leave off in good 
time. I must do two or three hours' work at the office 
before dinner ; and to-morrow I may have to go to town." 

" In re Lyman, Lincoln, and Jump ? " 

" Of course." 

" I say, what a fine pot-boiler that case is proving for the 
office. It would almost keep us going, though there was 
nothing else. Is there any likelihood of its being settled, do 
you think ? " 

" Not the least, I should say. There is a big estate ; the 
partners and Mrs. Lincoln are all at sixes and sevens, and 
you may be sure the lawyers won't let them settle until they 
have had a lot more picking out of it." 

" The pater advised Mrs. Lincoln to settle, though, didn't 
he ? — if she had a chance." 

" Yes, the pater always advises his clients honestly, some- 
times against his own interests. But the partners are com- 
bative and won't listen to reason. Litigants seldom do listen 
to reason. If they did we lawyers should lose our reason 
for being. And a friendly settlement is out of the question 
now, whatever it may have been a little while ago. Suits 
are going on both here and in America." 

" Yes, I know. And- that reminds me that I have a 
question to ask you. Has anything been heard of Jack ? 
I am aware it is a tabooed subject, and I should not think 
of mentioning it to father or mother. All the same, he and I 
were very good friends — though after I went to Marlborough 
I saw very little of him — and I cannot help wondering what 
has become of him. Poor old Jack." 

" You need not waste your pity on him, Charlie. He is 
not worthy of it. Jack behaved very badly." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 3 1 

" You mean he was always getting into scrapes." 

" Always. And he gave father and mother no end of 
trouble. At first they thought it was all boyishness and high 
spirits, and that he would steady as he grew older. But the 
last thing he did was the worst." 

" Running away from Liverpool ? " 

" Yes, and before running away he ran heavily into debt, 
and it cost the pater no end of money to put things straight 
— this is entirely between ourselves, Charlie — and if you add 
to that what it cost when he went wrong at Cambridge it 
comes to a nice penny." 

" Bad enough, in all conscience. All the same, there are 
worse things than running into debt, and I don't quite 
see " 

"Jack did worse. It was not merely getting into debt, 
though in his case there was not a shadow of excuse. Just 
consider ! When he came back from Australia, penniless, 
he was kindly treated and freely forgiven. Father found him 
a good place in Liverpool, where he might have done well. 
But almost from the first, as we afterwards ascertained, he 
went to the bad, and worse still, played the hypocrite. He 
hoodwinked his employers completely, made them believe he 
was as steady as a growing tree, and wrote letters home, tell- 
ing how well he was doing. Then, when exposure became 
inevitable, he just disappeared without writing a line to any 
of us to say he was sorry, and left father to pay the piper. 
And naught has been heard from him or of him since, \^'hat 
could be worse than that, I should like to know ? " 

" As bad as that, was it ? No wonder father won't talk 
about it, and hasn't been the same man since." 

" Who says he has not been the same man since ? " asked 
Edward sharply. 

" Isn't it evident ? And Lillywhite was saying so only the 
other day." 

" So it was Lillywhite that gave you the idea. Did he say 
anything about Jack ? " 

" He merely asked whether anything had been heard of 
him!" 

" I wish Lillywhite would mind his own business. And 
you are both wrong. I don't think father has altered in the 
least, except in being three years older, and he is still one of 
the most active men for his ase that I know." 



32 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



In making this assertion Edward spoke rather diplomati- 
cally than truthfully. Leonard Prince had not been the same 
man since the disappearance of his eldest son. His hope 
that he should get used to the skeleton in the cupboard had 
only been realized in part. The deceit which he was obliged 
to practice fretted him, a deceit of which he was reminded 
every time he paid Mrs. Lincoln her dividends, every time 
he remitted the Assurance Company the premiums on his life 
policies, and every time he received a check or a " put off" 
from Peploe and Pope. Then, again, the sense of the heavy 
pecuniary liability which he had assumed, and the fear, never 
long absent from his thoughts, that the fraud might be dis- 
covered when he was least expecting it, weighed on his mind 
and damped his naturally high spirits. He gave more time to 
business and less to sport, rode less boldly to hounds and 
seldom went from home — never when Edward was away. 
His friends ascribed these changes to increasing years, and 
as he always contrived to be cheerful at home they passed 
almost unobserved by his wife. And then there came to pass 
an event which by adding to Mr. Prince's professional en- 
gagements made his personal anxieties easier to bear. 

This was the death of his friend and neighbor, Mr. Lincoln, 
on which, for some doubtless sufficient yet not very ap- 
parent reason, his partners fell out amongst themselves and 
went to law. Mrs. Lincoln being compelled in self-defence 
to join in the fray, the proceedings on her behalf were con- 
ducted by Mr. Prince, who entrusted the active management 
of the suit (which speedily drifted into Chancery) to Edward, 
and as the interests at stake were important, and frequent 
consultations with counsel necessary, the young man had to 
spend the greater part of his time in London. 

We may now return to the two brothers. 

" Which way are we going } " asked Edward, as they came 
to a place where three roads met. 

" By Wroughton Shaughs, of course. It will save us a 
mile and a half at least." 

" How about the gates, though." 

*' I have not been this way since last season, but now that 
hunting is beginning, they are sure to be open." 

Turning from the high-road into a narrow lane, they went 
on until they came to a gate leading into a bridle-path. 

" Let me, I rather like opening gates," said Charlie. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 33 

Edward made no objection ; he did not like opening gates. 
But Charlie found the task more difficult than he had ex- 
pected. His mare would not be still, and the gate, though 
unlocked, was ingeniously fastened with a chain, a ring, a 
staple, and a hook. 

" Get off," said Edward. 

" No, thank you. I never get off to open a gate, and if 
there were not so many broken stones on the road " 

"Allow me, sir," said a wayfarer, who, while Charlie was 
struggling with the gate, had come up unperceived ; " allow 
me, sir," and with that the wayfarer loosed the chain and 
drew back the gate. 

He was a particularly disreputable-looking tramp, with a 
grim, unshaven face, a patch over one eye, and nothing much 
on but a sailor's jumper and a pair of ragged trousers. 

•' Thank you. I say, Ned, have you any coppers ? " 

Ned answered " No," and rode on, without giving the 
tramp a second glance. 

" Well, there's a sixpence for you. And, look here ; would 
you mind letting out that curb chain a link, while I light a 
cigar ? " 

The tramp tooked at the cigar longingly. 

" God bless you, sir," he said, " but might I make so bold 
as to ask if you have a bit o' baccy about you. I have not 
had a. smoke for twenty-four hours (producing a short clay 
pipe), nor yet broken my fast." 

" Poor fellow ! Here are a couple of cigars ; and take 
this shilling and go and get a good meal. Go at once ! " and 
Charlie, touching his horse with his heel, cantered off. 

But the tramp did not go at once. He lighted one of the 
cigars, and as he smoked it leaned on the gate and looked 
after the two horsemen. 

" That's Charlie," he soliloquized. " The same kind- 
hearted, generous lad, he always was. How he has altered ! 
If he hadn't been with Ned I shouldn't have known him. 
No wonder he did not know me. And Ned — but he hardly 
so much as looked my way. He is too superior a person to 
notice a poor devil of a tramp — and we were never real 
friends. Anyhow, I need expect no help from him. But the 
old man would give me a lift, if he knew — or Charlie. To 
which of them shall I apply, and how ? A few pounds — just 
enough to take me to London and buy me a kit. . . . But 

3 



34 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

it would never do to go to the house any more than for Charlie 
to come to me at a boozing ken. And whatever I do 1 must 
keep close. There are constables at Peele, and some fellow 
might — by God ! my back tingles at the mere idea. . . . 
I have it — a note ! Yes, I think I can fake a scribble that 
will fetch him — and without exciting suspicion either. And 
now for some grub ; and it shall be a skinful. I have not 
had so much money in my pocket since I left Colchester." 

" What did you give that fellow ? " asked Edward, when 
Charlie came up with him. 

" Eighteen pence and two cigars." 

" Eighteen pence and two cigars ! Say two shillings — 
nearly as much as a laborer in these parts earns by a day of 
honest work — and for opening a gate ! " 

" He was starving." 

" How do you know ? " 

" He said so — and he looks it." 

" Of course he said so — tramps always do — yet I'll be 
bound the rascal has as much money in his pocket as you 
have. I never give anything to beggars — on principle." 

"And deuced little to anybody else — also on principle," 
said the other sotto voce. 

" You have been taken in, my boy, and not for the first 
time. You are too impulsive. If you give to everybody 
who pleads poverty you will end by being poor your- 
self ! " 

Charlie, irritated by his brother's reproof and painfully 
conscious that he had acted impulsively and, in ^1 probabil- 
ity, been victimized by an impostor, held his peace. 

After passing through two more gates, that were easily 
opened, they crossed a big field and came to yet another gate 
armed with spikes which opened, or rather should have 
opened, into a grassy lane. 

On one side of this gate and nearly as high was a stiff 
flight of posts and rails. 

" It is not locked, I hope," said Edward. 

"Worse, it is nailed." 

" By Jove ! We shall have to go back, then." 

" That would be two miles out of our way and throw us 
late for the meet. We can jump this rail ; there is turf on 
both sides." 

" In cold blood, and that drop ! Not if I know it." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 35 

" Merry Boy will do it easily. Come, I'll give you a lead. 
Kitty likes a bit of timber." 

The next moment Charlie was over. Edward, who, though 
a fair horseman, was not a bold rider, did not seem to like it, 
but liking still less to turn tail he let Merry Boy follow, and 
albeit the old horse hit the top rail with his hind legs, he 
alighted safely in the lane, round a bend of which Charlie had 
already disappeared. 

" God bless me, another gate ! " exclaimed Edward, as he 
turned into the road. " Nailed up, of course." 

" Also locked," said Charlie, coolly, at the same time back- 
ing his horse. 

" Good heavens ! you are surely not going to jump it ! It's 
a foot higher than the other, and as strong as a brick wall. 
If Kitty hits it with her fore-legs she will turn a somersault 
and break your neck and her own back." 

" There is nothing else for it. We cannot jump the rails 
from this side : the drop is too big." 

" Nothing else for it ! I would rather wait here all day. 
Why on earth you came this way I cannot imagine. We had 
far better have gone round by the road." 

" It is a regular bridle-path. How could I know that the 
rascally old farmer had hung new gates and nailed them 
up? " 

" What shall we do, then .? I have it ! One of us must 
run to Oxbridge for a blacksmith, or a hammer or some- 
thing, while the other waits here. You are the better run- 
ner " 

" I am not so sure about that. Would not it be fairer if we 
tossed up ? " returned Charlie, laughing. The reproof was still 
rankling in his mind, and Ned's discomfiture amused him. 
" However, I think we can do better than that. We must 
make a circumbendibus and do the fence." 

" What are you thinking about ? It is impossible ! " 

It certainly looked so. The fence was a high bank, topped 
by an impenetrable blackthorn hedge, and with a ditch on 
both sides. 

" I think, though, I noticed a practicable place in that 
corner," said Charlie, turning his horse round. 

At the corner in question the fence turned at almost right 
angles, and the blackthorn hedge was weaker, and the ditch 
narrower than elsewhere. 



36 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" This will do. You go first, Ned, and make a gap for 
me and Ki,tty. It is just the sort of place old Merry Boy 
likes. He is as clever as a cat, and Kitty is such a beggar 
to rush. As likely as not she would go slap into the thickest 
part and stick fast." 

" It is the most beastly place I ever saw. No, thank you, 
I prefer to play second fiddle on the present occasion. You 
go first." 

" Certainly, if you will let me ride Merry Boy. But why 
not lead him over ? You go on ; I'll send him after you." 

" A happy thought, I'll act on it at once," replied Ned, 
dismounting with great alacrity. 

" But hold him till I climb the bank. I don't want to be 
jumped upon." 

" All right ! Go ahead ! Say when you are ready to catch 
him." 

" Now ! " shouted Edward as he disappeared on the further 
side of the fence. 

Charlie, dropping the bridle, gave Merry Boy a touch with 
his whip, whereupon the old hunter sprang over the ditch, 
scrambled up the bank and pushed through the gap, which 
he greatly widened. But Edward somehow missed catching 
him, and the next moment Merry Boy was justifying his name 
by cantering merrily round the field. 

Meanwhile, Kitty was dancing about on her hind legs and 
Charlie vainly trying to make her take the jump quietly. In 
the end he was obliged to let her take it as she liked, with a 
rush that carried her triumphantly over the ditch, and through 
the gap, only to fall ignominiously on her head in the field 
beyond. 

" Serve you right, you impetuous hussy ! " said the young 
fellow as he scrambled to his feet. " You'll not be in such a 
hurry next time." 

And with that he remounted and galloped after Merry Bo}^ 
whom Edward was vainly trying to catch. But the old horse 
yielded himself a willing captive to Charlie, who held him 
while his brother "got up." 

" Call this a short cut ! " said Edward, as soon as he could 
speak. " Call this a short cut ! It is a cut I shall cut no 
more, I can tell you. I would rather go five miles round 
any day." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



37 



" Oh, it is good fun, and all in the day's work," returned 
the other, laughing. 

" Fun ! A fig for such fun ! " exclaimed Ned in a tone of 
deep disgust. 

After this they had no further trouble. An easy jump 
over some sheep hurdles and a ten minutes' trot brought 
them within sight of Cobster Green, 



38 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE MEET. 

" There they are ; we are just in time," said Charlie, point- 
ing to the hounds, which were gamboling in a grassy glade, 
while the huntsman and whip stood guard over them. The 
horsemen on the ground did not exceed a dozen, for the 
Master detested a big field — unless the fair element greatly 
preponderated — only one degree less than a blank day. 
Though his hard riding days were over, Mr. Vayle sat his bob- 
tailed gray like a centaur, and was as keen a Nimrod as when 
he first carried a horn half a century before. Near him rode 
a young girl, to whom he paid great attention, for Mr. Vayle 
was still a gay cavalier and, as was said, could refuse nothing 
to fair ladies who favored him with their company and ad- 
mired the forest which he so dearly loved, and of which he 
knew every nook and corner, and almost every tree. Among 
his other peculiarities was a habit of saying, quite uncon- 
sciously and irrelevantly, " Dear me ! Dear me ! " and speak- 
ing his thoughts in a soft (and fortunately generally inaudi- 
ble) undertone. 

The name of the young girl was Olive Lincoln ; her years 
were about seventeen. As touching her person she was 
slim and well-shapen, slightly built, and rather tall than short. 
She had a fair, soft skin, peach-like cheeks, clearly-cut features 
(nose a little retrousse), dark hair, and large violet eyes, 
with long lashes, which were merry, mischievous or tender 
as the humor took her. 

As touching her costume, Olive wore a dark-green habit 
and a jockey cap, which became her to admiration, and she 
rode a corkey blood cob, hardly less good-looking and high- 
spirited than herself. 

"We are rather late, I fear," said Edward, after his brother 
and himself had greeted Miss Lincoln and the Squire. " I 
hope you have not been waiting for us." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 39 

" No, indeed, I have not. I never quarrel with people for 
not coming, and I am like time and tide, I wait for no man. 
(Dear me ! dear me ! what a conceit that young man must 
have of himself)." 

Miss Lincoln, who alone heard Mr. Vayle's " aside," 
laughed merrily. 

" The Squire means that he waits only for ladies, Mr. 
Edward," she said. " He would not wait for you though you 
were really a prince. We are waiting for ladies now — Mary 
Windle and Kate Convers, and the Spankaway girls." 

" There they come down the Earl's Path," said Charlie, 
who had sharp eyes and kept them open. 

" That is right. I am glad of it," observed the Squire. 
" They will be here in two minutes. We will draw Earl's 
Wood, Horner." 

The huntsman (a stout, short-legged old fellow mounted 
on a horse the right color for a hearse and big enough to 
draw one with a coffin inside) blew his horn and trotted off, 
followed by the pack. Next came Bill the whip, who rode a 
common-looking yet marvellously clever bay cob, whose name, 
" Noah's Ark," had been bestowed upon him because he was 
considered eminently safe and never shirked water. 

Mr. Vayle (who possessed a sense of humor) had chris- 
tened Horner's horse " Pagan," partly on account of his 
color, but chiefly because nobody had ever seen him on his 
knees. When he did fall at a fence it was always backwards, 
which was very convenient for Horner, who (being fat and 
heavy) found it much pleasanter to slip over the animal's tail 
than come a " cropper " over his head. 

Earl's Wood was reached in a few minutes, and the hounds 
(all small foxhounds) were no sooner thrown in than their 
eager cries proclaimed that " something was afoot." Said 
something proved to be a hare, which gave a very fair half- 
hour's run in the wood and out of it. Edward Prince got 
his gentle tittuping, the girls had " good fun " jumping the 
drains and dodging the trees ; and when the hare was killed 
the old Squire dismounted from his bobtailed gray, waved 
his hat and shouted " Whoo-whoop " with the best. 

While this was going on, Charlie had spoken to the hunts- 
man, and a forest-keeper, who was watching the sport, and 
made a confidential communication to Miss Lincoln, which 
bore fruit later on. 



40 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Where shall we try now ? " asked Mr. Vayle. 

" Let us try the Warren," said Olive. 

" Why the Warren ? " 

" We may find a fox there. The keeper saw one only this 
morning." 

" Oh, that is it, is it ? And would you really like us to find 
a fox?" 

" So much ; and so would Mary Windle and Kate Conyers, 
would not you, girls ? " 

" So much ! " echoed the young women in question. " Do 
draw the Warren, Mr. Vayle." 

" Well, I suppose we must. Dear me ! Dear me ! What 
do you say, Horner } " 

" I'm willing, sir. If we don't find a long-tail we shall, 
mebbe, find a hare, and the fox-hunting gentlemen cannot 
complain. They never come hereabouts," said the huntsman, 
whom a cap, collected by Charlie, and a long pull from 
Charlie's flask had put in excellent humor, and made him 
feel — for the moment — as bold as brass. 

So Horner blew his horn again, and the cavalcade made 
at a round trot for the Warren. 

" It's your fault, Charlie," whispered Miss Lincoln, who 
had dropped behind in order to have a word with him. " If 
you had not heard about the fox and put me up to it I should 
not have asked the Squire, and " 

" He would not have done it for anybody else. Never 
mind, I'll take all the responsibility." 

" But suppose I get my neck broken or lame Daisy, 
or " 

" You won't do either one or the other. I'll pilot you." 

" Thank you. I'll do my best to follow. But what will 
mother say ? She won't let me go with the foxhounds for 
fear of accidents, and now " 

" You are not going with foxhounds." 

" But we are going to hunt a fox." 

" That remains to be seen. We have first to find a fox, 
and it will be no easy matter to bustle him out of the Warren, 
I can tell you." 

" I think we shall find a fox, Charlie. I am sure we shall. 
The Squire says it is an ideal hunting day, and I am sure 
there is a scent." 

" Not a doubt of it. But that does not prove we shall find 
a fox." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



41 



" We shall find a fox. I have a presentiment. If we don't 
I will never ask Mr. Vayle to draw the Warren again. So it 
will be all your fault. But what shall I do about Potts ? He 
is riding old Tinker, one of the carriage horses. I don't 
think it can jump a bit, and Potts would fall off if it did — 
and as mother told him to take good care of me, he considers 
it his duty to go wherever I go." 

" Oh, never mind old Potts, We will drop him into the 
first ditch, and leave him to vegetate." 

" Charlie, you are really too bad," and then she laughed 
and said, " Poor Potts ! I hope the ditch will be soft, he is 
a good old man," and laughed again. 

Just then Edward came alongside, with so grave a mien 
that Olive rallied him. 

" Why so serious, Mr. Edward. Aren't you enjoying your- 
self ? " she asked. 

" I have enjoyed myself exceedingly, so far ; but this is a 
serious matter." 

"What is?" 

" Drawing the Warren for a fox. I doubt whether it is the 
right thing. I quite admit that the Squire is lord of the 
forest, so to speak, by general consent : but it is a question 
in my mind whether the Warren can fairly be considered a 
part of the forest." 

" I don't think anybody will mind the question in your mind, 
Mr. Edward, if we find a fox in the Warren, and, if we do, 
mine be the blame, for it was I who asked the Squire to draw 
the Warren." 

" In that case there is nothing more to be said," returned 
Edward, his grave face relaxing into a smile, " for where is 
the man who could refuse when Miss Lincoln asks .-* " 

" I forgive your previous doubts in consideration of your 
pretty compliment. But here we are at the Warren. Where 
shall we go, Mr. Charles .'' " (It was always " Mr. Charles " 
when Edward was present.) " I have heard something about 
upwind : which is upwind .'' " 

" You mean that foxes generally run upwind ; but to-day 
there is no wind " 

" So there can be no up. What shall we do then ? " 

" Well, it is a safe rule to stick to hounds, above all in a 
big cover like this, where they may slip away unseen and 
unheard." 



42 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



" All right. Mr. Charles, you stick to the hounds, and 
we'll all try to stick to you, won't we, Mr. Edward .'' " 

" Certainly, Miss Lincoln, if you will it. I am not sure, 
though, that Charlie is to be trusted. He must be careful 
not to lead you into danger." 

" Or you. At any rate, where he goes I shall go ; and 
unless you keep with us you will be thrown out," answered 
Olive, rather sharply. It displeased her to hear Charlie dis- 
paraged, and she did not " care " for Edward. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 43 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE RUN. 

The Warren was a large wood, technically a part of the 
forest, but separated from the main portion of it by a broad 
stretch of turf. It was intersected by two rides and several 
bridle-paths, the trees and undergrowth being elsewhere so 
thick as to render progress on foot difficult and on horse- 
back well-nigh impossible. 

When the field reached the wood Mr. Vayle marshalled 
his forces. The main point was to prevent reynard (if per- 
chance he should be found at home) from stealing back into 
the forest, in which event a run in the open would be out of 
the question. To this end he posted several men between 
the wood and the forest, with instructions to head back the 
fox if he should attempt to break in that direction. 

Bill, the whip, took his stand at the top of the principal 
ride ; a long-legged brewer, on a roan gelding, with a bit of 
red ribbon flying from its tail as a danger signal, and a sport- 
ing butcher, on a thorough-bred screw (which he wanted to 
sell), undertook to watch on one side of the covert ; and the 
ladies and the keeper were asked to keep a look-out on the 
other. 

Horner was then ordered to throw in his hounds and draw 
towards the higher ground, and away from the forest. 

" If we don't take care, we shall all be left lamenting," said 
the Squire when these dispositions had been made. " The 
covert is so thick that you can neither see hounds nor hear 
a hallo. Twenty years ago, when the foxhounds used to 
come here, they once slipped out with a fox unseen by any- 
body, the huntsman got bogged, and the hounds had a fine 
run of an hour and forty minutes all to themselves. (Dear 
me 1 Dear me !) Where are you going, Charlie ? " 

" Into the Warren with Horner. I can whip up to him." 

" Yes, yes ; go. Quite right, and if you find, shout your 



44 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



loudest. (Dear me ! Dear me ! I wish I was as young as 
Charlie, or even that conceited jackanapes, his brother)." 

Miss Windle and Miss Conyers, overhearing this soUloquy, 
laughed consumedly. 

" What is the matter ? Why are you laughing ? (Dear me ! 
Dear me ! Youth is the time for laughter ; why shouldn't 
they laugh ?) Are you going too, Olive ? " 

" Yes, Squire ; I should like to be as near the hounds as 
possible, if- there is going to be any fun." 

" Quite right. Yes, go. But beware of trees and holes, 
and take care of your hat. (Dear me ! Dear me ! I wonder 
whether it is the hounds or Prince Charlie she would best 
like to be near.)" 

Fortunately, none save the object of it heard this sotto 
voce, and, blushing brightly, she followed her pilot, and was 
followed in her turn by Edward Prince and coachman 
Potts. 

Nobody else went into the wood, and they had not gone 
far before two of the party began to wish they had stayed 
with the others. They were forced to ride in single file, 
twisting and turning, dodging the boughs and threading their 
way through the brambles, their horses slipping where the 
ground was smooth, and stumbling where it was rough. 

" Stoop low and shut your eyes, Olive," said Charlie : 
" never mind Daisy, she will take care of herself, and I will 
take care of you." Which he did so effectually that not a 
bough touched her. 

" Can anybody see the hounds ? " inquired Horner. " If 
they was to get on a line now we shouldn't be in it." 

"I wish we were not in it," growled Edward. " I knew 
Charlie would lead us into some mess. Confound it ! I 
believe I have cut my nose." 

" So you have," said Olive, glancing round. " It is bleed- 
ing dreadfully. You look like a red Indian in his war 
paint." 

Whereupon Edward, muttering an imprecation, applied 
his handkerchief, thereby adding greatly to his difficulties : 
with the same hand he had both to guide his horse and ward 
off the branches, one of which flying back, crushed Potts's 
castor and bonneted him completely. 

" Oh Lord ! " shouted the coachman. And dropping his 
reins he made frantic efforts to extricate himself. But the 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 45 

lining of his hat having fouled on his rather large nose he 
found this no easy task. In the end, however, he emerged, 
very red in the face and uttering strange oaths. 

All laughed, even Edward, who was beginning to think 
that the tip of his nose would go on bleeding forever. 

" Oh by — that hurt, that did," howled the huntsman. " Ooo, 
00, 00 ! " While he was laughing at Potts his shin-bone had 
collided against the bole of a tree and got the worst of it. " I 
won't come into this 'ere hole again, not for ten long-tails. 
And Where's the hounds ? They may be a mile away by this 
time. Thank goodness, here's a path at last. We can get 
along a bit now." 

All put their horses into a brisk trot, Horner still leading, 
for he best knew the way. 

" Hark ! " he cries, stopping short so suddenly that Kitty 
nearly cannoned against Pagan. " Cannot you hear sum- 
mut ? " 

" By Jove ! I do believe it's a whimper." 

" Ay is it " (listening intently), " it's Ringlet, and when 
Ringlet speaks you must be sure there's summut. There it 
is again. It's a line. Mr. Charlie, it is a line. Hike to 
Ringlet ! Hike to Ringlet ! For-rard ! For-rard ! " 

And the old fellow, bending over his saddle-bow to avoid 
impending branches, goes off at a canter, followed by the 
others, all in a state of high excitement, for Ringlet's solitary 
note has now swollen into a full chorus. 

Charlie, mindful of the Squire's injunction, shouts his loud- 
est ; Olive cheers on the hounds ; Edward pockets his hand- 
kerchief and lets his nose take care of itself ; and Potts squar- 
ing his elbows and using his heels, succeeds in putting old 
Tinker into a high and ponderous gallop. 

"This way," cries the huntsman; "we can't see 'em, and 
we don't know what it is — mebbe a hare, after all — we must 
just ride to the music till we get out of the wood." 

Presently they emerge into a broad path, riding, as before, 
to the music, for the hounds still keep to the thick of the 
wood. 

" Bill should be somewhere about here," says Charlie. 
" And hark ! There's a hallo ! A fox ! by all that is glorious, 
a fox ! Hike hallo ! Hike hallo I Forrud away ! Forrud 
away ! " 

" How do you know it's a fox ? " asks Edward. 



46 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Because it's Bill's voice, and he knows better than to tally- 
ho a hare. Hike hallo ! Hike hallo ! I hope Mr. Vayle and 
the others will hear. Blow again, Horner. 

At the top of the wood, which they reached at the same 
time as the hounds, are the brewer, the butcher, and the 
whips, holding up their hats and halloing till they are black 
in the face. 

" He's only just gone ! he's slipped through the gateway 
into that field. There ! Beauty has it. That's the line. 
For'rard to Beauty ! Well done, old girl ! " 

" Hike for'ard ! Hike for'ard ! " 

" I hope the Squire has heard the row and will be able to 
catch us up," says Charlie. " Shout again ! Forrud, forrud, 
forrud ! to Beauty. Sound another blast, Horner." 

Meantime Bill has opened the gate, and all ride after the 
hounds, which are racing across a big pasture to a breast- 
high scent, the butcher leading on his thoroughbred screw. 
Next come Charlie and Olive, Bill and the brewer, followed 
k by Horner and Potts. 

The first fence is a low bank with a widish ditch on the 
near side. To the surprise of everybody, himself probably 
included. Tinker takes it in his stride, and the coachman 
sticks on. 

" Bravo Potts ! " shouts Charlie : " if you go on like that 
you will be in at the death. . . Not quite so fast, Olive ! 
If we don't save our horses now they will not live through the 
run. Never mind though the hounds do get a bit ahead. 
They cannot keep up this pace over that plough." 

Nor do they. The scent grows colder, and two or three 
freshly ploughed fields with openable gates are traversed at 
a trot, the hounds hunting beautifully, checking only once 
and recovering the line v/ithout any help from the huntsman. 

Then more grass and faster going ; small enclosures and 
blind fences, with few jumpable places. 

" The butcher seems inclined to make the running, let him 
go first and make gaps for us," says Charlie, whose native 
daring was tempered by a sense of his responsibility for the 
safety of his fair companion. 

At the third fence, after leaving the plough, Tinker blun- 
dered into a blind ditch, throwing Potts clean over his head 
and completing the destruction of his rider's hat. 

"■He is done to a turn ; you had better go home," said 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



47 



Charlie, after ascertaining that Potts was none the worse. 
" And tell Mrs, Lincoln, with my compliments, that I will 
take good care of Miss Olive." 

The field, now reduced to seven, continue the chase, the 
hounds for the most part running mute to a burning scent. 
A few yards behind them ride the brewer, the butcher, and 
the whip, closely followed by Olive and Charlie, while Edward 
and Horner bring up the rear. 

The chase has lasted nearly an hour, and shows no signs 
of coming to a close when the hounds run on to a highway 
where two roads meet (one of them bounded by a wide brook), 
throw up their heads and stop short. They have lost the 
scent. 

Horner makes a couple of casts without result, and things 
are beginning to look serious when a faint hallo in the dis- 
tance, and a hat at the end of a stick, gives a timely hint as 
to the direction taken by the fox. 

" He has crossed the brook," says the huntsman, sounding 
his horn. " Hike hallo ! Hike hallo ! Yoh over ! Yoh over ! " 

"Hike hallo! Hike hallo! " echoes Bill, whipping the 
hounds up the brink. " Yoh over ! Yoh over ! Beauty has 
it again. Faw-rud to Beauty ! Faw-rud ! Faw-rud ! " 

The hounds swim the stream in the wake of Beauty, and 
after " feathering " a few seconds on the further side, go off 
full cry. 

" All very fine," says Edward, " but how are we to get 
over t " 

Seeing that the opposite bank, besides being high, is 
crowned with a three-barred rail, a pertinent question. The 
brewer, the butcher, and the whip answer it on the instant. 
Crossing the girth-high stream, they leap their horses on the 
bank and then, dismounting and breaking down the topmost 
rail, lead them over the others. 

" Dare you ? " asks Charlie of Olive. 

" Go, and I will follow." 

Charlie goes. 

" Let Daisy have her head," he shouts, as Kitty scrambles 
up the bank, and then, though there is hardly standing room, 
leaps his mare over the rails without dismounting. Olive 
does the same, and the next moment they are galloping after 
the hounds, which, like the horses, have been greatly refreshed 
by the check and the bath. 



48 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Are you going to have it, Mr. Prince ? " asks Horner, 
looking ruefully at the obstacle. 

Though neither a bold rider nor a keen sportsman, Edward 
had, so far, gone very well — partly, perhaps, out of a spirit of 
emulation, partly, it may be, because he did not like to lag 
behind when a lady led the way, and that lady Olive Lin- 
coln. But the brook looks ugly and the bank dangerous, to 
say nothing of the rail ; and it requires a strong effort to 
screw up his courage to the sticking point and let his horse 
go. But at the critical moment his nerve fails him. As 
Merry Boy rises at the bank, Edward clutches at the bridle 
and pulls him back into the stream, whereupon the bewil- 
dered and indignant animal plunges down the middle of it, 
flounders into a hole, and only after a desperate bout of 
swimming and scrambling succeeds in getting back on to dry 
land. 

" I don't think I should try that again, sir, if I was you," 
observes the huntsman. " You'll be drowned if you do. 
That is a main dangerous place, that is, though when I was 
young like your brother and Mr. Macadam, and Bill and the 
butcher, I should ha' thought naught on it — naught. But 
I'm an old fellow now. Come along o' me. I think I know 
the fox's point. We'll be at it as soon as them." 

"You can go where you hanged please, Horner. I am wet 
through from the waist, and shall go straight home. I wish 
we had not found that brute of a fox. I never go out with 
my brother that I don't get into some beastly mess," an- 
swered Edward savagely. He was not naturally sweet tem- 
pered, and an involuntary cold bath on an October day with 
a ten-mile ride in wet clothes and water-logged boots before 
him, would try the patience of a saint. 

" Call him a sportsman," soliloquized Horner, as he went 
his way. " Why, he is not fit to be named in the same day 
as his brother. Mr. Charlie's the boy for me. He both rides 
straight and takes a pleasure in seeing hounds hunt. Hark ! 
Is not that 'em? His point is Welsby coppice I do believe. 
Hold up, boss. You're not a getting tired already, surely." 
" Isn't this glorious, Charlie ? " cries Olive, as they reach 
the crest of a hill, over which the hounds have disappeared 
a few moments previously, and up which the four men have 
walked to ease their horses. " Is not this glorious ? " 

She might well say so. Below them was a breezy, wide- 



/ 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



49 



stretching common, which sloped gently towards a verdant, 
well-wooded valley, dotted with quaint cottages and red farm- 
houses, and bounded far away by a shining river. 

'' Yes, that is Harold's Common, as big as a parish, they 
say. And see how the hounds are going — all in a cluster ! 
Well, we are not likely to lose sight of them, that is one com- 
fort, and, by Jove, there he is ! " 

" The fox do you mean — where ? " 

" Don't you see that dark object, a mere speck — about half- 
a-mile before the hounds .'' " 

" And that is the fox ! Poor fellow ! Do you know, 
Charlie, I almost hope he may escape." 

" I don't think he will : the scent is too good. But if we 
don't go on the hounds will escape us. Come along ! " 

And they went — helter-skelter down the hill. Macadam 
and Charlie leading, for the butcher had taken a good deal 
out of his thoroughbred, and speed was not the strong point 
of Noah's Ark. But the going was good, and, after a two- 
' mile gallop, all overtook the hounds, just as the latter left 
the common for the fields, and exchanged grass for plough. 
And then the pace slackened — fortunately, for it is no joke to 
face wide ditches and formidable fences with fagged horses. 
Even the hard-riding brewer was glad to let the whip lead 
the way and keep a keen look-out for gates and weak places. 

But jumps were not always avoidable, and at the very last 
obstacle — a rail and ditch — which had to be taken flying, 
Daisy came to grief. Charlie went first, and then, with keen 
anxiety, turned to see how it would fare with Olive. 

" Send her at it," he cried, " it's rather a big place." The 
little mare did her best, but being well-nigh spent, hit 
the rail hard and went into the ditch instead of over it. Olive 
luckily fell clear, and before Charlie and Macadam could 
dismount to help her, was on her feet. As for Daisy, she 
seemed minded to repose for a while in the ditch, and it was 
with some difticulty that they got her out of it. 

" Whether we lose the hounds or not, we must have no 
more jumping," said Charlie, as he helped Olive into the 
muddy saddle. " Remember, I am responsible for j-our 
safety, .and you would not like any harm to befall Daisy." 

" Not for the world. But I should be very sorry to spoil 
your sport. Ride on after the hounds. I can take care of 
myself." 

4 



5° 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



" Certainly not. What would your mother say ? And the 
hounds have stopped running. Don't you see them feather- 
ing in the middle of that stubble \ " 

"Have they killed?" 

" I don't think so. You would hear Bill shouting ' whoo- 
whoop ' if they had. The scent has either failed or the fox 
run to ground. Let us go on and see." 

The hounds were baying at the mouth of a drain. 

" He's in here, sir," said the whip, who was prone on the 
grass, listening intently. " I can hear him. Shall I run to 
yonder farmhouse, get a spade and try to dig him out? " 

" Don't, Charlie, don't ! He is a gallant fox and has 
given us a splendid run. Let him live," pleaded Olive. 

" Very well. — Yes, I think he deserves to save his brush — 
an hour and forty minutes with only two checks. What do 
you say. Macadam ? " 

" I am quite of your opinion. And it is Hobson's choice. 
This drain is deep, and we have no terriers. You may as 
well call them off, Bill. How far are we from Peele ? " 

" If that house across the fields be the King George, 
and I think it is, nigh on fifteen miles. It's been a clinking 
run, Mr. Charlie, it has that." 

"You are right, and you have ridden well up. Bill. Here's 
a crown for you ! And now let us go to the King George 
and refresh our horses and ourselves, and then we will hie 
us home. What has become of my brother and Horner, I 
wonder? " 

" They did not like that brook, I think. But never you 
fear, sir. Horner will turn up. He does not ride as straight 
as you and Mr. Macadam, but he's generally somewhere about 
at the end of a run." 

The whip proved a true prophet. As hunters and hounds 
drew up at the door of the inn Horner came jogging up the 
road. 

" What have you done ? " he asked. 

Bill told him. 

" I felt sure he was making for Welsby Coppice, and he'd 
ha' got there, too, if the hounds hadn't pressed him so hard. 
The Squire will be as well pleased as if he had ridden the 
run himself. But he'd ha' been all the better pleased if you'd 
ha' taken the brush home in your hat, Miss Lincoln. He 
likes a kill, the Squire does." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



SI 



" But I don't, and I am sure the brush is much better where 
it is than in my hat. Here is something to put into yours " 
(handing him half-a-sovereign), " and will you see, please, 
that the horses are properly attended to, and then you can go 
into the house and get something for yourselves." 

" Thank you, miss, thank you kindly," said the old fellov/, 
pocketing the rip and touching his cap. " But I'll stop where 
I am. If I was to get off it would take me half an hour to 
get on again, I'm that stiff and rheumatical. I'll have some 
cheese and bread and sixpenn'orth o' whiskey. Bill. And 
slip the bit out of Pagan's mouth and bring him some gruel. 
He'll not run away, I'll warrant." 



52 



THE PRINCES VF FEELE. 



CHAPTER VII. 

GOING HOME. 

The ride home was long and, so far as pace went, slow, yet 
very pleasant withal. The declining sun shone brightly 
on a charming landscape, which still retained much of its 
autumnal glory ; and the run and its incidents, besides being 
pleasant to think about, made a subject for conversation 
which it seemed impossible to exhaust. 

Horner, as was meet, rode first, at the head of his pack. 
Next came Bill and Mr. Macadam — the latter acting as 
amateur second whip — to whom followed Olive and Charlie. 
The butcher, whose horse had gone dead lame, brought up 
the rear, and was soon left hopelessly behind. 

" We had better keep together ; horses like company, and 
this jog-trot is quite fast enough," had said Charlie to Miss 
Lincoln. 

" By all means. It will be so much more cheerful for us, 
besides being better for the horses," answered Olive, with a 
sigh. 

" Are you tired, Olive, that you sigh ? " asked Charlie 
softly. 

" A little. But it was not that." 

" What, then ? " 

" I was thinking about my mother. She will be frantically 
anxious. What time shall we get home .-' " 

" You, at six, I, half an hour later. I don't think you need 
distress yourself on that account. I suppose Potts would 
deliver my message ? " 

" I have no doubt he would, also a few observations of his 
own. He thinks nobody can take care of me but himself, 
and will tell mother that without him I should be sure to 
come to desperate grief." 

" Well, your appearance at home safe and sound will prove 
the contrary." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



53 



" For which thanks to you, Charlie. If you had not piloted 
me so carefully and told me what to do I should never have 
seen the end of the run — and I have enjoyed it so much. 
So much that I am almost ashamed of myself, for I fear it is 
very cruel." 

" What is .? " 

" Hunting." 

" There's no doubt it is, in a sense ; but what is not .'' You 
cannot eat a mutton chop without killing a sheep, nor drink 
a glass of water without swallowing a lot of microscopic 
organisms. And remember that if there were no hunting all 
these hounds would have been drowned when they were 
whelps." 

" So we may regard ourselves as philanthropists. Instead 
of being a cruel amusement, hunting is a humane pursuit. 
Foxes die in order that hounds may live. I vote for the 
hounds," returned Olive brightly, for though she rather 
suspected that there lurked a fallacy in Charlie's theory, she 
was not disposed to scrutinize too severely his ingenious 
argument in support of so pleasant a pastime. 

" That's it. Miss Lincoln," put in the brewer. " If there 
was no hunting there would be no hounds, and if we killed 
no foxes there would be no hunting. And you may do a lot 
of hunting without killing — to-day for instance. The betting 
is always ten to one on the fox. I suppose you have nothing 
of the sort in America, Miss Lincoln ? " 

" Do you mean fox-hunting ? " 

" Yes." 

" You are quite mistaken, Mr. Macadam," said Olive, who, 
though she liked hunting and England exceedingly, was too 
patriotic to admit that her country played second fiddle in 
anything whatever, " You are quite mistaken. I believe 
there is very good fox-hunting in Virginia, and we have 
something far finer — buffalo-hunting on the prairies and 
grizzly bear-hunting in the Rockies." 

" But they hunt buffaloes without hounds — just ride up 
to them and shoot them down. The poor brutes have no 
chance," said the brewer. 

"I don't call that sport at all," said Charlie; "hunting 
without hounds is like dancing without music — and then 
there is no jumping." 

" And what is that like ? " demanded Olive, tartly. 



54 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



" Fox-hunting without jumping is like war without fighting." 

" Or beer without hops," suggested the brewer. 

" Or love without kisses," added Charlie. 

" All the same, America is " 

" Your country, and you are quite right to stick up for it. 
I admit your superiority as to buffaloes and grizzlies, and I 
daresay ii: is good fun hunting them. But I am quite content 
with Old England and fox-hunting ; I want nothing better." 

" Hear, hear ! " said the brewer ; " Old England forever, 
and may we never have worse sport than we have had to- 
day." 

" That is a sentiment in which I can concur without 
reserve," observed Olive. " It is the best day's sport I ever 
had ; and I don't think I shall have a better until I hunt the 
buffalo and the grizzly in their native wilds." 

And then they all laughed. When people are in high 
spirits a small joke goes a long way. 

An hour's alternate jog-trotting and walking brought them 
to Rodwell Cross, and there they parted company, the hounds 
and the brewer going one way, Miss Lincoln and Charlie 
another. 

" My mother and I were talking about you the other day," 
said Olive, after a short interval of silence. 

" I hope you were speaking well of me." 

" I am not sure that you would think it well. My mother 
said that you were not cut out for a lawyer, and I rather 
agree with her." 

" So do I. To tell the truth, I don't like the law, and I am 
not a lawyer by choice." 

" You would rather have been something else ? " 

" I would rather have been a soldier. I wanted to go into 
the army, but, as my father and mother objected, I yielded 
to their wishes, and became an articled clerk, a good deal 
against the grain. My father is very good, though. He 
does not tie me to the desk. ' Enjoy yourself while you are 
young,' he saj^s. ' Care will come soon enough. If you are 
not ploughed more than once at your exams. I shall be con- 
tent.' " 

" And have you been ploughed ? " 

" Never. My pride would not let me, and the exams, are 
not very difficult." 

" But you don't spend much time at the office .'' " 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 55 

" No more than I can help." 

" And is that the way you intend to go through Hfe — doing 
no more than you can help ? " asked Olive, rather con- 
temptuously. 

"I did not say I do no more work than I can help," re- 
turned Charlie, with some asperity. " I said I spent no 
more time in the oiifice than I could help, which is a very 
different matter. And there is no particular reason why I 
should work hard. Ned does. He likes it, and old Lilly- 
white is a host in himself, to say nothing of my father ; and, 
though he is fond of field sports, no man in the county works 
harder at his profession." 

" Yes, your father is a very fine man. Everybody respects 
him. He has been very good to us. My mother says that 
there is nobody in the world in whom she has such absolute 
confidence. He is integrity itself." 

" Yes, and he is kindness itself. I would rather lose my 
right hand than vex my father. It was to please him that I 
gave up my idea of going into the army." 

" It was not to please your mother, then ? " 

" It pleased them both. If the pater had been left to him- 
self I think he would have consented. But she would not 
hear of it — she comes of a Quaker family, and has some 
Quaker notions about soldiering and that — and if you want 
to please my father you must please my mother. , . I am 
afraid you think me a very idle fellow, Olive." 

" No, I would not say that. You hunt and fish, and play 
cricket and football with great energy and success. No, you 
are far from idle. But you don't seem to care about getting 
on. Now, in America, a young man in your position would 
throw all his energies into business." 

" Make a fortune, you mean ? By the time I should have 
made a fortune I should have lost the capacity to enjoy it, 
I would rather go on as I am. I shall have enough for my 
wants." 

" But could you not try to make a name ? " 

" What chance has a country solicitor of making a name, 
I should like to know ? " 

" Oh, there are ways. You might get into Parliament, for 
instance. Anyhow, if I were a man, I should not be content 
to be a nobody. I would either make a fortune or a name, 
or, in some other way, win distinction." 



5 6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I loSc my chance of winning distinction when I went into 
my father's office instead of going into the army, and I shall 
never have another — unless the French come and the yeo- 
manry cavalry are called out," said Charlie, laughing lightly, 
yet not without a touch of bitterness. " But here we are at 
your lodge gates, and just at the time I expected. The 
church clock is striking six. Shall I go in with you ? " 

" Of course you must, and give an account of your steward- 
ship, and help me to make my peace with my mother." 

" All right. Let us trot up the avenue, and then she will 
know we are coming." 

As the two belated ones reined up before the house a foot- 
man threw open the door, and a plump, little woman, with a 
round, fat face, lively black eyes, and wearing widow's weeds, 
appeared at the threshold. 

" At last ! Thank heaven, you are safe, Olive. If you only 
knew how anxious I have been ! When I heard the sound of 
hoofs in the avenue, I feared it might be the huntsmen com- 
ing to teJl me you were killed. Why didn't you return with 
Potts?" 

" Because I should have had to leave off at the very be- 
ginning of the run. I would not have done it for a thousand 
Potts. He got home all right, I suppose 1 " 

" He did get home, but I cannot say he was all right. 
His hat was battered all to pieces and fastened on with a 
handkerchief, his face scratched all over and encrusted with 
blood, his coat torn and covered with mud, and Tinker lame. 
Potts returned in a sorry plight, I assuie you, and he said 
you two were careering over the country like mad people, 
and he doubted whether either of you would come home alive. 
He frightened me dreadfully, and I don't think I shall ever 
let Olive " 

" Potts is an old tea-pot," interposed Charlie. " It was one 
of the finest runs ever known, Mrs. Lincoln, and no danger- 
ous jumping, and Olive rode like an Amazon. If the fox 
had been killed, instead of running to ground, she would 
have got the brush." 

"Yes, Olive does ride well," said Mrs. Lincoln, mollified 
by the young fellow's praise of her daughter. " But that is 
no reason why you should lead her into danger." 

" He did not lead me into danger, he led me into safety," 
answered the girl warmly. " If you had only seen — he kept 



THE PRINCES OE FEELE. 



57 



with me all the time, he went first overall the difficult places 
and told me what to do. But for him I certainly should 
have come to grief." 

" Well, well, we will say no more about it. All is well that 
ends well. Won't you stay and dine with us, Charlie ? We 
will excuse your costume." 

" You are very kind, Mrs. Lincoln ; but they are expecting 
me at home, and Kitty has had a hard day. I must get her 
made comfortable for the night as soon as possible." 

And then they shook hands, and the young fellow hied him 
homeward, musing, and not in the best of humors. It was not 
the first time Olive had hinted — though never before so plain- 
ly — that he was not taking life sufficiently in earnest, and 
that he ought to have higher aims and nobler pleasures than 
being merely a country lawyer, captain of the Peele Eleven, 
and riding straight to hounds. His conscience told him that 
the imputation was true, and he did not like it ; less, however, 
out of regard for his conscience than Olive's good opinion, 
which he greatly desired. He had known her since she was 
eleven or twelve years old — that was why they called each 
other by their Christian names — and he was her senior by 
three years. But being as precocious as travelled American 
girls generally are, and having seen a good deal more of the 
world than he had, she treated him much as a strong-minded 
elder sister treats a wayward brother — ordered him about, 
made him fetch and carry for her, and occasionally admonished 
him for his good. Charlie, on his part, made no objection ; 
he did not find it unpleasant to be ordered about by a pretty 
girl, and he liked Miss Lincoln so well that he would have 
suffered much rather than forfeit her good-will or forego the 
pleasure of her society. He had never seriously asked him- 
self whether he loved her. A little flirting was all very well, 
but the conscience aforesaid told him that he was too young 
to become engaged, and existing arrangements v/ere so en- 
tirely to his satisfaction that he had no wish to change them 
for a state of things that might interfere with hunting and 
cricket. 

Nevertheless, Olive's strictures on his want of purpose 
were very galling, the more ecpecially as, albeit in one sense 
true, they were not altogether deserved. She did not give 
him credit for the sacrifice he had made in renouncing his 
desire to enter the army. It had been the dream of his life 



58 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

to go to the wars, and he knew that he had it not in him to 
shine as a solicitor. The study and practice of the law were 
only made tolerable to him by being largely intermixed with 
sport, and out-of-door work in connection with Lord Hermit- 
age's estate. 

"If I can only please Olive by making my fortune as a 
lawyer, I may as well give it up as a' bad job," he thought. 
" And I would rather please her than anybody else. But 
what can a fellow do ? I might enlist ; but after the way 
Jack has behaved that would break their hearts entirely, and 
I am not sure that Olive would like me to be a private sol- 
dier." 

So it came to pass that, notwithstanding the good day's 
sport he had enjoyed, Charlie went home pensive and de- 
spondent. 

Meanwhile Olive and her mother were making him the 
subject of another discussion. 

" What have you and Charlie been talking abovit ? " asked 
Mrs. Lincoln, as they sat in the drawing-room, waiting for 
dinner to be announced. 

" All sorts of things — the run and the hounds — and, 
lastly, about himself. I took the liberty of telling him what 
you said the other day — that he was not sufficiently in 
earnest, that he ought to have a purpose in life and try 
to make some show in the world." 

"How did he take it?" 

" Very well. He never resents anything I say. The 
trouble is that he does not like law a bit. He wanted to 
go into the army." 

" It was very well he did not. All idle young men 
want to go into the army, I think." 

" Charlie is not idle, mother ; anything but that. He works 
with great energy at anything he likes, and it is not his fault 
that he has been put into a profession which he detests." 

Mrs. Lincoln smiled. 

" What would you have, my dear ? " she said. " A minute 
since you were blaming the young man, now you are praising 
him." 

" Well, I am afraid of him sinking into a nondescript and 
a nobody — half sportsman, half lawyer, and he has it in him 
to do a great deal better than that — he is generous, cour- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



59 



ageous and high-spirited and in many things really very clever 
— much more so than some people imagine." 

" You have observed him very closely, I think." 

" Naturally. We were children together ; and I always 
observe people. It is amusing." 

" All the same, Olive, there is a grave defect in Charlie's 
character, I fear he is unstable and will never excel — except 
in sport. What if he does not like the law } He has gone 
into it, and it is his duty to conquer his dislike. Many a 
man has made a fortune and a name in a profession which he 
did not find congenial at first. Let him take example by his 
brother. Edward will get on. He works at this unfortunate 
suit of ours night and day. His knowledge of the law is 
simply immense. He seems to know everything and forget 
nothing." 

" Yes, he is the model young man, which is perhaps the 
reason I don't much like him." 

"You mean you don't like him because other people do." 

" That is not it. I dislike him because he is priggish and 
conceited, after the manner of models. Then he doesn't 
ride straight, and I detest his laugh." 

Mrs. Lincoln smiled again. 

" That is a new fad of yours, Olive, judging people by their 
laugh," she said, " and if riding is to be the test I admit 
that Edward is hopelessly inferior to his brother. But it is 
not a test of a man's moral worth, and judged by any other 
standard, Edward is the better man. He is industrious 
and clever, as high-principled as his father, and altogether a 
most promising young man. I greatly prefer him to CharUe, 
and so I think must every sensible person." 

" Then I am not a sensible person, for I am sure I don't," 
returned Olive defiantly. 

" Well, well, there is no accounting for likes and dislikes," 
said Mrs. Lincoln with an air of amused resignation, " and 
perhaps if I preferred Charlie you would prefer Ned. Some 
people go by the rule of contrary. But let us go in to din- 
ner ; the bell has rung and you must be very hungry." 



6o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
"the blessin g." 

" Got some gruel ready, Tom ? " asked Charlie of the 
head groom, as he rode into the stable-yard. 

" Yes, sir." 

" Well, take good care of Kitty. We have had a clinking 
run and a long hack home. What are you doing with a fire 
in the harness-room ? " 

" Drying Mr. Edward's boots and saddles and things. He 
got into a brook or summat, and came home sousing wet." 

"Give Kitty a linseed mash—but no corn, mind, and no bran, 
and when she is cool sheet her well up and bandage her legs." 

And with that the young fellow hurried into the house, for 
it was quite dinner-time ; but it took him only a few minutes 
to change his hunting suit for evening dress, and he entered 
the dining-room with the second course. 

A large low ceiled room it was and oak wainscoted : at one 
end burnt a bright fire of logs, at the other shone resplendent 
a fine black oak cabinet and sideboard, lighted with wax 
candles, in its way quite a work of art, to the building of 
which Mr. Prince, who was curious in such matters, had given 
much time and thought. The windows were hung with 
crimson curtains, the walls adorned with choice oil paintings, 
and all the arrangements were suggestive of good taste and 
easy circumstances. 

" Had good sport, my boy, eh ? " said Mr. Prince pleas- 
antly, as Charlie took his seat. 

" Capital ! Found a fox and ran him an hour and forty 
minutes with only two checks. Hasn't Ned told you .^ " 

" He could not tell me more than he knew. He got into 
trouble at Cobbin Brook and came home. Gad ! I would not 
have come home." 

" I think Edward did quite right to come," observed Mrs. 
Prince gently, and with a slight lifting of her beautiful arched 



THE PRTNCES OF PEELE. 6 1 

eyebrows. " It would have been very foolish of him to go on 
with wet clothes and his boots full of water." 

" Ah, Avell, there's no accounting for tastes in these things. 
And Ned never was much of a sportsman." 

" I never pretended to be, father. Chacun a son gout, you 
know " 

" All the same, you rode like a sportsman to-day, Ned," put 
in Charlie. " If you had not got into the brook you would 
have seen the end of the run as well as the best — and an 
accident may happen to anybody." 

The mother smiled. She knew that her sons were not 
always sympathetic, and the junior's generous defence of the 
elder, even in so small a matter as this, touched a responsive 
chord in her heart. 

"Well, one cannot help getting a bit excited when hounds 
are running," said Ned, smiling in turn, " and, if Merry Boy 
had not blundered into the deepest part of the brook, I don't 
think I should have been far behind you." 

" Blundered, did he ? " said Mr. Prince, with a gesture of 

surprise. " The old horse does not often do that, unless 

However, it is perhaps as well you did not take much out of 
him. He will be fit for me to ride with the foxhounds on 
Thursday — if you will help Lillywhite to look after the shop, 
Charlie ! Ned is going to town for a few days." 

" Of course I will, father ; and if the weather holds out you 
ought to have good sport." 

" I hope Olive came to no harm," said Mrs. Prince. " I 
have never been able to reconcile m3'self to the idea of girls 
riding to hounds ; and I know that her mother is never quite 
happy when she is out." 

" She did not come to the least harm, and straight she 
rode, too ; never shirked a single jump," returned Charlie. 

" Did not boggle at the brook, I suppose ? " said Mr. 
Prince, with a side glance at his elder son. 

" Nor anything else." 

" If you mean that for me, father," he said, " if you mean 
that I boggled at the brook, just let me tell you that I did 
nothing of the sort. If Merry Boy had not refused the bank 
and plunged into mid-stream, so wetting me through, I should 
have gone on ; but I am not so fond of huntings as to be in- 
different to the consequences of a ducking." 

" You see what you have missed, Ned," said the father, 



62 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

mischievously, " the best part of a chnking run, and a ride 
home with a pretty girl." 

Edward, who took himself too seriously to like being 
chaffed, did not deign to reply. 

Before dinner was quite over the butler told Mr. Prince, in 
an aside, that Thomas Roots, from Windy Gap, would like 
to have a word with him. 

" Bother Thomas Roots. Why cannot he come to the 
office in business hours ? However, he is an important tenant, 
and always up to time with his rent. It is about that new 
barn he wants building, I suppose. See him, Charlie — it is 
in your line — and say that Lord Hermitage won't let us spend 
any more money in improvements this year ; but, after Lady 
Day, I daresay we can manage it. Show Roots into my 
room, Hartly, and give him a glass of grog." 

Charlie had got rid of the farmer, and was on the point of 
returning to the drawing-room when one of the maids gave 
him a note, which on opening he found to run as follows : — 

" The waif, whom you so generously relieved this morning, 
craves the favor of an interview with Mr. Charles Prince. 
He has a very important communication to make, but being 
in rags would rather not show himself in the house. He will 
wait for an answer at the stable-yard gate." 

" He must be a queer tramp," thought Charlie ; " this letter 
is well written and not badly expressed. Shall I see him ? 
Ned would say he was a begging-letter impostor, and want to 
send for a constable. As likely as not, though, he is a decent 
fellow down on his luck. Anyhow, there is no harm in hear- 
ing what he has to say." 

So, after lighting his pipe and putting on a felt hat, he 
went leisurely into the stable-yard, unsuspicious of evil, and 
anticipating nothing more serious than a tramp's story, pos- 
sibly true, but more probably false, ending with a request for 
money. 

He found his man lounging against the gate-post with his 
hands in his pockets, and his hat slouched over his eyes. 

"Well," said Charlie, stopping before him. 

" I should like a word with you, sir, if you would be so 
kind as to give me a hearing. But we might be overheard 
here, people are coming and going. Could we go some- 
where ? I shall not detain you long." 

The tone, voice, and manners of the man were so different 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 63 

from those of the tramp who had opened the gate for him, 
earlier in the day, that Cliarlie could hardly believe it was 
the same. 

" Is it so very particular, then, what you have to say ? " he 
asked. 

" Very, sir, as you will be the first to admit when I tell you." 

" Let us go into the harness-room. There is a fire, and 
the men are sure to be away by this time." 

Charles led the way to the harness-room, opened the door 
and went in, the tramp following. Edward's saddle was dry- 
ing before the fire on an old wooden case, turned upside 
down. Charlie removed the saddle and told the tramp to 
take a rest on the box, then he put a log on the fire and stirred 
it up. As he stooped to do this his face came near the tramp's. 

" You have been drinking," he said sternly, turning round 
with the poker still in his hand. 

" Yes, sir, I have had a glass of brandy, but not out of 
your money, for on my way to Peele I earned sixpence by 
helping a carter to get his cart out of a ditch. And if you 
are ever as tired and hungry and used up as I was this morn- 
ing, you'll be glad of a drop of something to put a bit of life 
and courage into you. And I'd have no objection to another 
glass if you'd give me one. Might a fellow smoke .'' " 

" Might a fellow smoke ! Do you know yon are getting 
confoundedly familiar. You have not only been drinking ; 
you are drunk." 

" No, I am not. One glass of brandy does not make a man 
like me drunk, and that is all I have had. As for familiarity, 
I have a right to be familiar." 

" You impertinent scoundrel ! I've a good mind " 

" Don't use bad language, my dear sir. You'll be sorry 
for it afterwards." 

" 'Pon my word, this is intolerable. Say at once what you 
have to say or I'll send for a constable." 

" I don't think you will, sir." 

" Why not ? You are either an impostor, or worse." 

" Well, perhaps I am — in one sense. All the same — don't 
you know me ? " 

" Know you ? How on earth should I know you ? " 

" Look at me." 

The tramp rose, doffed his hat, removed the patch from 
his eve. and then threw back his head. 



64 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Look ! " he repeated. 

Charles shook his head. 

" By this fitful light," he said, again stirring the fire. " By 
this fitful light I should not know my own brother." 

" I am your own brother." 

" My own brother ! Good Heaven ! You don't mean to 
say you are Jack ? " 

" Yes, I am your vagabond, ne'er-do-weel brother, the same, 
though I can hardly believe it, who, when you were a little 
chap, so high, used to romp with yow. in this very room and 
ride you round the garden there on his back." 

Charlie's first impulse was to exclaim, " Dear old Jack," 
and take his hand. Then, remembering the evil Jack had 
wrought (though he did not know the worst) he drew back. 

"What are you doing here, and what has brought you to 
this pass ? " he asked coldly. 

" I will tell you. But not so loud, not so loud — the serv- 
ants — somebody might hear. But let me ask you first of all, 
did the governor square Peploe and Pope ? " 

'' I believe so. At any rate, he paid a good deal of money." 

" Then they did not burst up ; there was no scandal ? " 

" Peploe and Pope did not burst up ; there was no scandal." 

" Then he must have squared them. I wonder how much 
it cost him t But did he square the bank as well ? " 

" What bank ? " 

"Jardine and Jameson." 

" I cannot tell you ; I never heard of them before. Now, 
answer my questions — where have you been, and what do 
you want ? " 

" Where have I been .-• Well, when I found the game was 
up I jumped a ship " 

" You ran away from your debts, you mean. That was 
cowardly." 

"My debts? Yes, I ran away from my debts," answered 
Jack with a hard laugh, " and a good job I did. I put on a 
suit of sailor clothes, went down to the docks, jumped on 
board a ship as she was being towed out, got a berth as or- 
dinary seaman, and sailed in her to China, and a rough voy- 
age we had, I can tell you. At Hong Kong I left her and 
got a billet in a merchant's office, and if I had been a steady- 
going chap I might have saved money and got on. I did 
save some, but I spent it in a spree and lost my billet at the 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 65 

same time. There was nothing for it but to go to sea again, 
so I shipped on board a brig bound to Queenstown for 
orders. We got orders to go on to Liverpool, and that being 
about the last place in the world I wanted to go to, I slipped 
overboard and swam ashore, and as I had not a copper in 
my pocket and hardly a shirt to my back, I 'listed. By the 
time I had finished my drill, the regiment was sent to Col- 
cliester, and there I got across with an infernal brute of a 
sergeant-major. One day last week he provoked me beyond 
endurance, and I knocked him down. I was placed under 
arrest, of course, but the same night I escaped from the lock- 
up, went to a boozing ken, a common lodging-house, and ex- 
changed clothes with a tramp while he slept, then set off on 
the tramp myself." 

" You are a deserter, then ? " 

" A deserter — and worse ; he is " 

Jack seized the poker and sprang to his feet. Charlie turned 
sharply round. There was a dark figure in the doorway, 

" You, Ned t " he exclaimed. 

" Yes, you dropped this note in the hall, and, recognizing 
the handwriting, and guessing what had happened, I came 
here just in time to hear this vagabond's confession — or so 
much of it as he chooses to tell. How dare you show your 
face here. Jack ? " 

" What is that to you, Ned ? You are not my keeper. I 
have done you no harm." 

" Done me no harm ! You have harmed us all. Are we 
not partners in your disgrace. To make good your defal- 
cations and prevent a frightful scandal, father had to borrow 
money and incur a liability of which he will not get rid while 
he lives. Is that no harm ? Is it no harm to us — to Charlie 
and me — think you, that our eldest brother should be guilty 
of forgery and fraud and become a drunkard, a deserter, and 
a tramp .-* " 

'' Forgery and fraud ! " exclaimed Charlie. " No, no, Ned. 
Surely, it is surely not so bad as that ! " 

" You were so young at the time that father did not want 
you to know, so, for God's sake, keep it to yourself, but it is 
true, ask him if it isn't." 

" It is true," murmured Jack, bowing his head. 

" And the bankers refused to be squared. If they find out 
that you are in the country they will prosecute you. Y/hy on 



66 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

earth didn't you stay in China or go somewhere else ? If 
you possessed the sUghtest vestige of a conscience, you would 
have cut your throat or blown out your brains rather than 
come back here." 

" Don't say that, Ned," interrupted Charlie. "It is almost 
as if you told him to commit murder. And he is our brother, 
after all. It is not for us to throw a stone at him. If we 
don't forgive him, who will 1 " 

" Well, I might have forgiven him if he had not come back. 
But this is the worst thing he has done yet. If he is taken 
up as a deserter, and he may be any moment, for I have not 
the least doubt the police are on the look-out for him — if he 

is taken he is sure to be recognized, and then It makes 

my very blood run cold to think of it What is your 

object in coming here. Jack ? I suppose you have an object ? " 

" I thought I might get a little help. There is not a beggar 
on the road who is poorer than I am." 

" And you shall be helped, Jack," broke in Charlie im- 
petuously. " I cannot do much, but whatever I can do I 
will." 

" He does not deserve to be helped, Charlie, and if it was 
not for the disgrace it would cause the family, I should say 
leave him to his fate." 

" No, you would not, Ned ; when it came to the point you 
would not have the heart to turn your own brother from your 
door, without raising a hand to help him, though he is a black 
sheep." 

" You are right. Charlie," said Jack, gloomily. " I am a 
black sheep, and I fear I always shall be ; but is it entirely 
my own fault, think you ? A man is pretty much as God 
makes him. At school I was always getting into scrapes ; 
Ned was never in a scrape in his life. I could never do right ; 
he could never do wrong, and it has been so ever since. How 
I wish my father had let me go to sea when I wanted. I 
should have got licked into shape while I was a cub. What 
was the use of trying to make a barrister of a fellow like 
me 1 " 

" Not a word against the pater. Jack, if you please," said 
Charlie. " He has been only too good." 

" I am not saying a word against him ; merely expressing 
a regret that I was not allowed to go to sea. I regret still 
more that he did not drown me while I was a whelp. I wish 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 67 

I had never been born. Don't you think I feel my degrada- 
tion ? Ned accused me of being a drunkard. I am not ; at 
any rate I am not a sot ; but sometimes I get utterly reck- 
less. I think of what I am, and what I might have been, and 
then I am ready for anything. I try to drown dark memories 
in drink — and, I won't deny it, the habit grows. . . . But I 
won't trouble you, why should I ? You are among the for- 
tunate of the earth, while I, like Cain, am a vagabond on 
the face of it. Let me go. What if I am lagged t It will 
only be fifty lashes. I can stand that, and I did not enlist 
in my own name." 

" That would not do at all, Jack," said Edward, speaking 
kindly for the first time. " You would have to be brought 
before the Bench, and somebody would be sure to recognize 
you : and I cannot bear to think of you wandering about the 
country like a common tramp. Have you any money in your 
pocket, Charlie ? " 

" Three or four sovereigns." 

" And I have no more." 

" That will do, thank you," said Jack, humbly. " Five 
pounds will make me rich beyond the dreams of avarice." 

" No. You should have enough to take you out of this 
country, and start you in another — forty or fifty pounds at 
least — and you must be away from Peele before daylight to- 
morrow — by the 5.30 train. ... I have it. I am going to 
town to-morrow by the 10.30 express, in re Lincoln. I can 
get the money there, and you can meet me — it won't do for 
you to come to Wood's Hotel — at the Black Bull, in Holborn, 
between five and six o'clock. Where will you go ? " 

" To New York, in a sailing ship from the Thames. I 
must fight shy both of Liverpool and Queenstown." 

" You will really go, now ? You won't spend the money 
in drink ? " 

" I assure you, Ned " 

" Well, it is your last chance, remember ; and I don't mean 
to give you all this money at once. Fifteen pounds o" co 
will be enough to keep you a few days in London, and pay 
your passage in a sailing ship to New York. I will remit the 
balance to the care of some banker to wait your arrival. 
What may be your latest alias ? " 

" It was John Jones the other day. It is anything you like, 
now." 



68 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Let it be grandfather's, then, Mark Darnley. And now 
we must go in, or we shall be missed. Charlie will bring you 
some clothes and a rug presently. You cannot go to London 
in those rags ; and you must be olT before the men come in 
the morning." 

" Couldn't I see h'nti and my mother and ask their forgive- 
ness ? It might help me to do better." 

" No. It would be too cruel. It would reawaken painful 
memories ; their hearts would bleed afresh — and — there are 
other reasons." 

The " other reasons " were Edward's dread of a scene, and 
a fear that the scapegrace might obtain from his father a 
great deal more money than the modest sum which he him- 
self proposed to give him. 

" Anyhow, he may see them," Charlie said. " We have 
evening prayer about ten o'clock. When the stable clock 
strikes the hour go round to the dining-room window, Jack. 
I will arrange the blinds so that you can look in without be- 
ing seen. But take care they don't see you. I will bring you 
the things as soon as I can, and I shall come again in the 
morning to see you off and say good-bye." 

When his brothers were gone Jack put his elbows on his 
knees and his head between his hands, and gazed gloomily 
at the flickering fire. 

" Evening prayer ! Evening prayer ? " he moaned. " They 
keep it up, then. How long is it since ? To think of that 
time and what I am now is enough to make a fellow hang 
himself, as my dear brother advised me to do. How proud 
I was when mother took me in to prayers for the first time, 
and held me on her lap while father read, and then I would 
kneel at her side and say my own prayer, ' God make me a 
good boy ! ' .... Not much use, that prayer. He has 
made me a deuced bad boy — or the devil has — worse than I 

dare tell or anybody knows I'll ask Ned to pay my 

passage and see me safely on board. If he gives me all that 
money I shall go on the loose and get lagged, to a dead cer- 
tainty They are very good, 'pon my soul. Charlie 

is really kind ; he means it. Ned is good because he wants 
to get rid of me. He is nothing if not respectable. Gad 
if he saw me marched off with those things on my wrists, 
between a couple of fellows with fixed bayonets, he would 
have a fit I am on the down grade and no mistake. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 69 

If I could only keep ofif drink ! Unless I do I shall go to the 
deuce fast, and utterly — faster I dare say in America than 
here. However, as nobody knows me there and nobody 
cares for me here, it don't much matter. Life is but a thought, 
and I have seen more of it than most men twice my age." 

And so his vagrant thoughts ran on until the clock struck 
ten. Then he went out and crept furtively, by well-known 
paths, to the dining-room window and looked into the house 
from which he was an outcast and might never enter again. 
The room was empty, but there presently came a servant and 
laid a Bible and a prayer-book on the table. Next, a bell 
rung, and Mr. and Mrs. Prince and their two sons, followed 
by several domestics, entered the room and took their places, 
just as they had done in days gone by. For the most of 
those present it was a ceremony without any particular mean- 
ing — Mr. Prince taking part in it mainly to please his wife, 
and because it was the right thing to do — but the vagabond's 
interest in it was intense ; he lost neither a word nor a ges- 
ture ; it was his last glimpse of home, the last time he should 
look on his father and mother, for whom, despite his sins and 
degradation, there was, deep down in the heart, an undying 
affection. 

When Mr. Prince had read a few verses and a short prayer 
the servants withdrew, and Mrs. Prince, sitting down at the 
piano, asked her sons and her husband to join her in singing 
the old Evening Hymn : — 

" Glory to thee, my God, this night, 
For all the blessings of the light ; 
Keep me, oh keep me, King of kings, 
Under thine own almighty wings." 

When it was finished she rose from her seat. 

" Are you going to bed already, mother ? " asked Charlie. 

" Yes, I feel rather tired." 

The two young men kissed her. 

" Good-night, and may God bless you," she said with emo- 
tion, " and may He also bless poor, erring Jack, wherever he 
is this night. I have thought much about him to-day." 

" Aye. God bless him," added Mr. Prince, in a choking 
voice. " He needs a blessing, if anybody does. It is nearly 
three years since his name passed my lips. He has done us 
a cruel wrong. But he is our own lad still. That is a fact 



7° 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



one cannot blot out ; and for aught we know he may be lead- 
ing a better life. I often wonder where he is, and how occu- 
pied. All the same, I hope we may never hear of him again 
— unless it be something good. Better that he should perish 
in a foreign land than come back and disgrace us." 

All this fell on the listening vagabond's ears and burnt into 
his soul. His whole body trembled with suppressed emotion, 
and his face was bathed with tears. 

" I have their blessing," he murmured ; " they love me still, 
drunken reprobate though I am. Please God, I'll never 
touch drink again ; and when they hear of me it shall be 
something good— it shall — it shall." 

And then he crept back to his hiding-place, by the way he 
had come. 

A few days later Jack was at sea, on board a ship bound 
for New York ; and during the voyage, which was long and 
stormy, he never turned in without murmuring : " Keep me, 
oh keep me, King of kings, under thine own almighty wings," 
and saying to himself : " It shall be something good, if I 
live." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 7 1 



CHAPTER IX. 
MRS. Lincoln's plan. 

Though Mrs. Prince was neither a match-maker nor a 
schemer, it would have been strange if the idea of mating her 
soil Edward with OUve Lincoln had not occurred to her. The 
advantages of such a match would have been obvious to a 
much less intelligent matron. Olive was an heiress, and, 
albeit somewhat wayward and self-willed, a very charming 
girl ; and Edward, who was a model son, could not fail to 
make an exemplary husband. Moreover, in the probable 
event of the misappropriation of the trust money coming to 
light, the fact of Olive being Edward's wife would disarm 
Mrs. Lincoln's resentment and prevent scandal. The secret 
would be kept in the two families ; and the intercourse be- 
tween them had latterly become so frequent and friendly, that 
she anticipated no difficulty in the realization of her designs. 
Formerly the Lincolns were generally from home — if they 
could be said to have a home — dividing their winters between 
Paris, Italy, and the Riviera, making occasional visits to 
America, and spending only their summers at All Hallows. 
But since Mr. Lincoln's death his widow and his daughter 
had lived there exclusively and in strict seclusion, making few 
calls, and receiving scarcely anybody save the Princes. 

Mrs. Prince opened the campaign by sounding her son. 

" Olive is a charming girl," she said, " and will make a very 
fine woman. Don't you think so ? " 

" Yes, I think she is. All the same, she would be more so 
if she were a little less wilful and capricious ; and not being 
a prophet I am unable to say whether she will make a fine 
woman," answered Edward, who (probably owing to his legal 
habit of mind) had a provoking way of never assenting to a 
proposition without cavilling. 

" I did not say she was faultless," observed Mrs. Prince 
rather impatiently. " A girl brought up as she has been is 
sure to be a little wilful ; and she has seen so much of the 



72 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



world that she is older than her years. But I think I know 
her as well as you do, and I assure you she is a girl of noble 
nature, whose love any man might be proud to win." 

" Unquestionably — always, of course, provided " 

" Oh, don't give me any of your always provided. You 
need not talk to me as if you were afraid of committing your- 
self. I am very much in earnest. Tell me without equivo- 
cation whether you would not be proud to win her, whether 
the advantages, both to yourself personally and to the family, 
which would accrue from a marriage with Olive have not 
occurred to you ? " 

" Of course they have, and as you press for an answer, I 
admit that I should be very glad — but there are difficulties in 
the way which you do not seem to have taken into account." 

" What are they ? " 

" Well, in the first place, I might have to keep her." 

" Naturally, but as you have now a share in the office, and 
as she is an heiress, that is surely not much of a difficulty." 

" You forget that Mr. Lincoln, in his will, expressed a 
strong desire, amounting almost to a command, that his 
daughter should not marry until she was at least twenty-one ; 
and in the event of her marrying without her guardians' con- 
sent before she is twenty-five the whole of her fortune, except 
two hundred a year, goes to another branch of the family 
(after her mother's death), a provision intended, no doubt, to 
prevent her being snapped up by a mere fortune-hunter." 

" But her guardians have nothing against you ? " 

" Perhaps not, but they would certainly object to her marry- 
ing before she comes of age. In no case can she touch a 
penny of her fortune pending that event, and my share in the 
business would not enable me to give her such an establish- 
ment as she has a right to expect. Besides, I know for a fact 
that Mrs. Lincoln would object to any engagement whatever 
during Olive's minority. She would regard it as a violation 
of the spirit, if not the letter, of her husband's injunction ; 
and in my opinion it would be impolitic even to raise the 
question." 

" That does make a difference, certainly," said INIrs. Prince 
pensively. " All the same, I do not see why you should not 
make yourself agreeable to Olive in the meantime. There 
are a hundred w^ays in which a young man may let a girl know 
that he loves her, without actually proposing. And the sooner 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



73 



you begin the better, for, though OUve is fancy free now, she 
is at an impressionable age, and there is no knowing how 
long she may remain so. It will be quite enough to propose 
in two years or so, and, if you have secured her affection in 
the meantime, I am sure Mrs. Lincoln would not object. 
Why should she ? Where will she find a man more likely to 
make Olive happy ? " 

" All very well, but suppose I fall in love with Olive and 
she does not reciprocate, how then .-' " 

" That is the risk you must run, my dear, and remember 
that faint heart never won fair lady." 

" I don't think I have a faint heart, mother, though I do 
confess to a cautious temperament. And, to tell the truth I 
have begun your plan already ; I have tried to make myself 
agreeable to Olive, as yet, however, without much tangible 
success. I seem to get no 'forruder.' She gives me the 
go-by for Charlie, and, do you know, I have sometimes had a 
suspicion that those two are slightly spoons on each other. 
Has that possibility entered into you calculations, mater ? " 

Mrs. Prince laughed. 

" You are really too absurd with your doubts and suspi- 
cions and misgivings, Edward. Mentally, Charlie is little 
more than a boy. They saw a good deal of each other when 
they were children, that is the reason why they are so friendly. 
Besides, he is both too young and too much taken up with 
hunting and that to fall in love. He thinks more of Kitty 
than Olive, and he is not Olive's ideal. These Americans 
are very practical. Mrs. Lincoln is a farmer's daughter, and 
Mr. Lincoln made his own way. They think nothing of a 
man who does not put all his energies into his profession 
and make money. I do wish father would insist on his 
spending more time at the ofiace." 

" Charlie is a lad after father's own heart," answered 
Edward with a supercilious smile. 

" Yes ; he says he was much the same at the same age, 
and that Charlie will buckle to when he has had his fling. 
We shall see. . . . You will think of what I have said, 
dear ? " 

" I will, mother ; and, to be quite open with you, I care 
for Olive very much — perhaps rnore than, considering the 
circumstances and having regard to my own peace of mind, 
is quite prudent — and I am glad you think I have a chance." 



74 



THE. PRINCES OF FEELE. 



" A chance ! You have every chance — good looks, a good 
position, good manners, a stainless character, a fair future 
and no rivals — what could you want more ? " 

If Mrs. Prince had known that at the very time she and 
Edward were concocting this ingenious scheme for the cap- 
ture of Olive's heart Mrs. Lincoln was beginning to question 
whether it was not in danger from another quarter, the 
former lady might have seen reason to modify her opinions 
and revise her plans. Mrs. Lincoln could have told her 
that despite Charlie's faults and the other's virtues, Olive's 
preference was for the younger and (matrimonially) less 
eligible brother. 

Nevertheless, Mrs. Lincoln had no reason to suppose that 
her daughter's happiness was compromised as yet, much less 
that Charlie had spoken words of love ; but young people 
were young people, and the latent spark might easily be 
kindled into a flame which it would be difficult, perhaps im- 
possible, to control. This contingency Mrs. Lincoln greatly 
deprecated. Even though Charlie were a desirable parti, it 
would be her duty to respect her husband's wishes as well 
in the spirit as the letter, and the surest way of doing so was 
to prevent Olive from forming any attachment whatever for 
several years to come. 

On the other hand, it would be the height of indiscretion 
to talk to Olive in this strain, or warn her against Charlie. 
Indeed, Mrs. Lincoln shrewdly suspected that she had talked 
too much about that young gentleman already, and that her 
somewhat exaggerated rejections on his faults, instead of 
making her daughter think worse of him, had made her think 
better of him. 

Had it not been for the exigencies of the lawsuit, the 
difficulty might easily have been got over by a voyage to 
America or a trip to the Continent. But neither of these 
expedients being admissible, she adopted a third, which, as 
she believed, would prove equally effective. 

This was to renounce the seclusion in which she had 
lived since her husband's death, entertain freely, and en- 
courage the visits of young men and maidens, who might, 
she hoped, prove a counter attraction to Charlie. 

As a beginning, she resolved to give a breakfast to the 
hunt, of which the late Mr. Lincoln, though he never rode to 
hounds, had been a liberal supporter. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



75 



Mr. Prince, who thought she had mourned quite long 
enough, and delighted in anything which gave eclat to the 
noble sport which the famous Mr. Jorrocks happily described 
as the image of war, without its guilt and only 25 per cent, 
of its danger, warmly approved of his client's design, and ren- 
dered her every help in his power. Negotiations were opened 
with the Master and Secretary of the Hunt, and a fortnight 
later the local papers announced that the Riversdale Hounds 
would meet at All Hallows on the following Monday at 10.30 
(for breakfast). The words in brackets, it is hardly neces- 
sary to observ^e, referred exclusively to the biped members 
of the hunt, the dietary of hounds on hunting mornings being 
strictly limited to fox — when they can catch one. 

The occasion afforded a fine opening for Edward Prince, 
He was a good caterer, an adept in the management of pic- 
nics, outings and parties, and made himself very useful to 
the ladies of the house. Mrs. Lincoln left all the details to 
him ; and the butler and the cook were ordered to place 
themselves at his disposal. The result justified her con- 
fidence, the breakfast was all that could be desired, and 
Edward won great praise. 

On the eventful morning All Hallows, a fine old country 
house commanding a wide prospect of green valley and 
sylvan heights, was as merry as a fair. Gay cavaliers were 
cantering across the park, dashing dog-carts driving up the 
avenue, hounds reposing on the lawn, led horses pacing to 
and fro before the house. The portico, the hall and the 
dining-room were ablaze with scarlet, and brilliant with white 
breeches, shining boots, and resplendent spurs. The gather- 
ing was large, for Mrs. Lincoln had invited several of her 
neighbors to see the show, and some had come to break- 
fast whose hunting would be finished when the first fox broke 
cover. 

At one end of the principal table sat Mr. Prince (who 
was doing the honors for Mrs. Lincoln), at the other Bertie 
Brown, the master of the hounds and the captain of the 
county eleven, a long-limbed, broad-shouldered gentleman, 
whose handsome face was radiant with health and high 
spirits, as well it might be, seeing that its owner hunted four 
days a week in winter and played cricket as often in sum- 
mer, and between whiles did a fair amount of shooting and 
fishing. The banquet was graced with the presence of sev- 



76 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

eral elderly ladies and a few fair girls ; and Olive's bright 
eyes, scarlet jacket and broad-brimmed low-crowned hat 
turned the heads of at least half a dozen of the younger 
members of the hunt. 

Time being limited, everybody worked at high speed, and 
most of the guests, so soon as they had finished, gave place 
to later comers who had not been fortunate enough to find 
seats. Among them was Charlie, but while the majority of 
the others went out of the room he went no further than the 
back of Olive's chair — a fact which did not escape the notice 
either of his brother or Mrs. Lincoln. 

When the clock on the mantelpiece cuckooed eleven the 
master stood up and signified that he had something to say. 
But his erstwhile radiant face had become pathetically 
solemn, for speech-making was more abhorrent to him than 
a dodging fox or a hard frost, and even his warmest friends 
were fain to admit that oratory was not his forte. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began in faltering accents, 
" Ladies and gentlemen, I have to thank you — no, I don't — ■ 
I mean that it would not be right for us to separate without 
expressing our high sense of Mrs. Lincoln's kindness in 
inviting the Riversdale hounds to breakfast this morning, 
and on their behalf " 

" Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing t " in- 
terrupted the waggish secretary in a sotto voce sufficiently 
audible to set the table in a roar. 

" Hang it, Rookwood, don't cross a fellow in that waj-," 
exclaimed the master with a bewildered look, and pulling up 
short. " What the dickens .'' Ah, I see, I must hark back. 
I beg your pardon, ladies and gentlemen, hounds was a slip, 
I meant members of the hunt " 

" Gad ! I think the hounds are the most important mem- 
bers of the hunt," muttered the irrepressible secretary. 

" If you don't shut up, Bob, I shall — On behalf of the 
hunt, I thank Mrs. Lincoln for her hospitality, also for the 
interest she takes in our sport. Her covers are always a 
sure find ; Charlie Prince, who has almost as keen a nose 
for his namesake as a veteran hound, tells me that an un- 
commonly fine fox was seen in Whitethorn Wood this morn- 
ing. I hope he is there yet and will give us a good run. 
Gentlemen, fill your glasses and join me in drinking the 
healths of our highly respected hostess and her lovely daugh- 
ter." 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 77 

Mrs. Lincoln bowed, Olive smiled and blushed, and after 
the healths had been drunk Mr, Prince responded in a neat 
little speech, which was very much applauded. He had 
scarcely sat down when a sporting farmer, whose breeches 
and boots looked as if they had been heirlooms in his 
family for several generations, went up to the master and 
whispered something in his ear. 

" Gentlemen," said Mr. Brown excitedly, " a fox, probably 
the fox I alluded to just now, was viewed away from White- 
thorn Wood five minutes ago. If the hounds are laid on at 
once we may have a good run. Perhaps Mrs. Lincoln will 
kindly excuse us." 

The words were hardly out of his mouth when there was a 
general stampede for the door ; and the next moment men 
were rushing wildly about in all directions, looking for 
their horses, calling for their grooms and mounting in hot 
haste. 

Charlie leant over to Olive. 

" Let us mount quietly in the stable-yard, and get out the 
back way," he said, " Come." 



78 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER X. 

WELL SAVED. 

Miss Lincoln followed her pilot and their horses, v/hich 
had been waiting on the pillar reins, were brought out at 
once. Daisy being amiss, Olive was going to ride a thorough- 
bred chestnut, belonging to a dealer, which her mother had 
promised to buy for her if the horse behaved to her satisfac- 
tion. 

Charlie had tried the animal a few days previously, and 
pronounced him to be a fine goer and a good jumper. 

" But you will have to be careful at first," he said as they 
rode out of the yard. " He is quiet enough by himself, but 
he may get excited with hounds, and chestnuts are sometimes 
rather hot." 

" Oh, I think I can manage him. He seems very gentle, 
and you will keep near me, won't you .'' " 

" Of course I shall. Don't I always ? " 

Olive smiled. She was quite conscious of the fact that 
Charlie generally did keep near her, whether in the hunting 
field or elsewhere. 

The " back way " was a short cut which brought them to 
Whitethorn Wood in advance of the crowd and just as the 
hounds were laid on. But the scent had grown cold almost 
to notliingness, and as Quickly, the huntsman, did not believe 
in pottering about to no purpose, he blew his horn and went 
off at a canter to Lorton Springs, a cover about two miles 
distant, which was probably the fox's point. The way thither 
led across some large grass fields and through a line of 
gates. 

So far, the chestnut, which rejoiced in the name of Rata- 
plan, had been quite under control, but with the hounds be- 
fore him and a hurrying crowd of horses behind him he grew 
excited and began to pull. 

" Not so fast, Olive," said the watchful Charlie, " if he gets 
fairly into his stride you won't be able to stop him." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 79 

" I am doing my best," returned Olive, straining at the 
bridle, " but the harder I pull the faster he goes." 

Right before them was a ditch, bounded on the further 
side by a quickthorn hedge, which, though high, seemed too 
thin to be either difficult or dangerous ; but Charlie knew it 
of old. 

" This way," he said, " there is a gate yonder, and that 
hedge is topped with wire ; it would be certain grief." 

" He will neither stop nor turn," cried the girl, tugging at 
the reins with all her might. 

Charlie rode close up to her, and, grasping the bridle, tried 
to pull the horse round. He might as well have tried to turn 
a steam-engine. Rataplan had got his head down, and seemed 
bent on charging the bullfinch. 

" He will come an awful cropper. You must get off, Olive. 
Quick, slip your foot out of the stirrup ; see that your skirt 
is clear, and when I put my arm around your waist, throw 
yours round my neck. Now ! " 

The next moment Olive was on Kitty's back, with Charlie's 
arm round her waist and as the young fellow turned his mare 
from the fence Rataplan rose at it, but he was going too fast 
to jump high, and hitting the almost invisible wire with his 
fore legs made a complete somersault in the air and landed 
in the next field on his back. 

" Dear Olive, thank God you are safe ! " exclaimed Charlie 
passionately. 

" And I owe my life to you." 

"It was nothing. Any other fellow would have done the 
same." 

" But no other fellow did ; and, oh Charlie, I would rather 
owe my life to you than anybody else in all the world." 

Her face was very pale, but her eyes were bright, and there 
was a light in them which Charlie had never seen there be- 
fore. 

Just then the secretary and several other men, who had 
observed the incident from a distance galloped up to offer 
their help. The secretary jumped from his horse and assisted 
Olive, who was half fainting, to dismount. 

" That was a deuced near thing, and very well saved," he 
exclaimed. " The beggar bolted, I suppose. Take a drink 
from my flask, Miss Lincoln : it will do you good." 

Olive drank and felt better. Meanwhile, Macadam and 



8o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

the butcher, who had scrambled through the bullfinch, shouted 
that Rataplan was all right — he had fallen in a soft place — 
and they would lead him round to the gate. 

" But you will surely not ride that bolting beggar again, 
Miss Lincoln," put in the secretary. " He may bolt when 
Charlie Prince is somewhere else, and you would be in the 
wrong box then." 

" She shall have Kitty, and I will ride Rataplan," said 
Charlie, " then she wont lose the day's sport." 

" But wont he bolt with you ? " asked Olive anxiously. 

"I think I can hold him, I am a little stronger than you 
(smiling). Besides, that tumble will have taken the devil out 
of him." 

It seemed so, for when the butcher brought him round to 
the gate the horse looked as quiet as a lamb. 

The saddles were changed and the secretary (who was the 
pink of politeness where ladies were concerned) having 
helped Olive up, they resumed their interrupted journey. 

Presently Edward overtook them, looking not very happy. 
Albeit he had resolved not to lose sight of Olive, even though 
he should break his neck, he had made a bad start, owing to 
the temporary disappearance of the rustic to whom he had en- 
trusted his horse ; and had the hounds found at the first draw 
would have been left hopelessly behind. When he heard 
that Charlie had saved Olive from a great danger — probably 
from death — by a brilliant feat of horsemanship, he did not 
feel any happier. Nevertheless, he could not help congratulat- 
ing her and complimenting him — in a fashion. 

" I hope you have quite recovered from the shock, Miss 
Lincoln," he said, with slightly exaggerated anxiety. 

" Quite, thank you ; but I confess that when I saw that 
wire, and Rataplan would not stop, I was horribly fright- 
ened." 

" Of course you were ; I should have been myself," returned 
Edward, sympathetically. "It was very well done of my 
brother, very well done,. How fortunate he was with you. 
All the same, Charlie, I am rather surprised you did not dis- 
cover that the horse was a bolter when you tried him the 
other day." 

" When I tried him the other day he was as easy to hold 
as a parson's hack. You forget, too, that Bristowe said he 
was quiet with hounds and a perfect lady's hunter. Besides, 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 8 1 

I am by no means sure that the horse is a bolter. He was 
very fresh, and when he heard the field clattering behind him 
got excited. Exercise him regularly, and ride him to hounds 
twice a week, and he will be as safe a mount as Daisy." 

Olive was about to say that Charlie had acted nobly, and 
to protest that he deserved unqualified praise, when a thought, 
suggested by a new-born prudence, arrested the words on her 
lips, and, turning to Edward, she inquired how he had left 
his mother, rather to his bewilderment. But as he always 
assumed — unless there was strong evidence to the contrary 
— that other people took him as seriously as he took himself, 
he answered with becoming gravity that his mother, though 
not fully recovered from her cold, was much better. 

When they reached Lorton Springs the hounds were being 
"blown out." Reynard was not there. After a word with 
the master, Quickly led the eager pack to a third cover, Rak- 
low Park, at so fast a pace that the hindmost hunters 
imagined that the hounds were running, and did not discover 
their mistake until they overtook the main body. 

A big cover was the so called park, with deep winding 
rides, and so difficult to get away from that even hard riders 
were sometimes left sorrowing in the fastnesses of its impene- 
trable thickets. 

By the advice of the urbane secretary, who, having been 
brought up in the way he should go, knew every brake and 
bush in the country, Olive, the Princes, and several others 
took up a strategic position at the north-east corner of the 
cover. 

" Here," he said, " we command a view of two sides. 
Whether the fox breaks this way or that we shall see him. 
If he breaks yonder we shall hear the whip's view hallo, if on 
the other side, Quickly's horn. Now silence in the rank ! if 
you please." 

The secretary's prescience was justified by the event. 

" What is that, Charlie ? " asked Olive, a few minutes later, 
pointing to a dark object which was gliding across a stubble 
field some two or three hundred yards from where they stood. 

" That is the fox. Miss Lincoln," answered the secretary. 
" He has stolen out of the cover unbeknown, as Mrs. Gamp 
would say. But keep quiet until he is fairly away, or those 
loitering fools in that old lane will either head him back or 
get before the hounds." 

6 



82 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

But when reynard was in the next field and had put a 
brook with rotten banks between himself and the loitering 
fools in question, the secretary and Charlie gave a series of 
view hallos that made the horses prick their ears, and nearly 
frightened to death a poor hare which had been hiding in her 
form. Before the echo of them died away. Quickly, followed 
by his pack, leaped from the wood, and soon the baying of 
the hounds proclaimed that the chase had begun. 

" Over the brook by the bridge," said Charlie, leading the 
way. " We shall nick in on the other side." 

Which they did, just as the hounds, closely followed by 
the master and Quickly (who had done the brook despite 
its rotten bank), were streaming over a big pasture, bounded 
by a flight of posts and rails, which was easily done by the 
timber jumpers ; the others rode for a gate. 

For fifteen minutes or so the pace was fast and furious ; 
then, after a short check it became slower, yet not too slow 
for enjoyment — more enjoyable indeed for folks who liked to 
look about them and had an eye for the picturesque. They 
were in the best of the Riversdale country, a country which 
though mostly under plough rode light and carried a good 
scent, slightly undulating and intersected by ditches so wide 
that the man and horse who went in were seen no more until 
they got out — yet quite practicable for resolute jumpers and 
riders of nerve. No use looking for gaps or riding for places ; 
those who did not take things as they came had to stop 
behind or make ignobly for the nearest road. 

As the chase swept on, the sun, which had been hiding 
all the morning, came out, nobly investing the far-away hills 
and brightening the brown fields and dark woodlands with 
the wondrous witchery of his smile ; and all this beauty, 
blending with the sights and sounds of sylvan war, red-coats 
and galloping horses, the cries of men, and the music of 
hounds, gladdened still more the two young souls who had 
just made the supreme discovery of their lives — that they 
loved and ■were loved. 

They talked in snatches : it is not easy to keep up a 
conversation when hounds are running. 

" Are you enjoying it, Olive ? " he asked. 

" Can you ask .-" So much." 

" You look so. Your eyes are as bright as the sun." 

" Oh, Charlie ! But mind what you say — somebody might 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 83 

— and your brother is close behind. How well he is going." 

Edward was going well. He had made up his mind to 
keep close to Olive, and as he was riding the cleverest 
horse in his father's stud he had no difficulty in sticking to 
his resolve. He needed merely to stick on, and though he 
had no stomach for the sport and never took a jump without 
fearing a fall, the thought that he was gaining credit with 
Miss Lincoln for his bold riding and preventing her from 
getting too thick v/ith Charlie steeled his nerves and converted 
what would otherwise have been a penance into the sem- 
blance of a pleasure. 

After a run of two hours, the latter part of it rather drag- 
ging, the fox was handsomely killed in the open, and the 
brush awarded to Miss Lincoln. Then the hounds went 
further afield to draw again ; but as Olive said she was tired 
and Charlie declared that Rataplan had had enough, and 
Edward said he had, they decided to hie them home, as did 
most of the others who had no second horses out, they turned 
their backs on the field and their faces towards Peele. 

Olive rode between the brothers and was very gracious to 
Edward, complimenting him warmly on his riding, though 
not quite as judiciously as she might have done. 

" You went as well as anybody," she said. " With a little 
more practice you will soon be as good a man with hounds 
as Charlie." 

" It is very kind of you to say so, Miss Lincoln, but I am 
sure I shall never be Charlie's equal in horsemanship. He 
gives his mind to it, I don't," answered Edward, in a tone 
which implied that he held horsemanship in light esteem. 

" Well, if you want to excel in anything you must give 
your mind to it, mustn't you .-' You give your mind to law, 
therefore you excel as a lawyer. But would it not be pos- 
sible for a man to excel in both — like your father, for in- 
stance." 

" I am not sure that my father does excel as a lawyer. 
But there was no examinations in his time. He owes his 
success rather to native shrewdness, sound judgment and 
capacity for business than profound knowledge." 

" No matter, he excels. And you forget his high sense of 
honor and his pleasantly genial manner, so important in a 
lawyer." 

*' It is not for me to praise my father, Miss Lincoln. But 



84 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

you are quite right. Character, and manner which inspires 
confidence are more essential to success — at any rate in a 
country lawyer — than mere knowledge of the law," he 
answered, wondering at the same time what she would say if 
she were to know about the broken trust. 

Charlie listened in silence, but he guessed that some of 
Olive's remarks were intended for him. 

" She wants me to take the pater for my example," he 
thought, " and I will." 

The brothers saw Olive home. 

" I am sorry I cannot ask you to stay," she said as they 
reined up at the door, " my mother is gone to town and won't 
be back till dinner-time. Will you change saddles here, 
Charlie .? " 

" No, I will ride round to the stables. You go on, Ned. 
I'll overtake you before you get to the lodge gates." 

Whereupon, after shaking hands with the two cavaliers 
and bidding them good-night, Miss Lincoln tripped into the 
house. 

As Charlie was mounting his horse in the stable-yard a 
man put a note into his hand. 

*' From Miss Olive," he said. 

It contained these words ; " At four to-morrow afternoon, 
in the King's Path." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 85 



CHAPTER XT. 

"their first tryst." 

On the next day Charlie was early at the ofBce, and, having 
an object in view, worked with unwonted diligence. He 
draughted a rather complicated lease so well that Lillywhite 
declared he could not have done it better himself, and Mr. 
Prince said the same. 

Shortly before three o'clock, Charley, having finished his 
lease, went into his father's room. 

" I am going to Fountains," he said ; " one of the chimneys 
is in a very bad way, and Pringle wants somebody to look 
at it." 

" Yes, you had better ; but take care what you promise. 
If we let the account for disbursements get too high we shall 
have his lordship complaining again. 1 suppose you will be 
back in time to go home with us in the dog-cart ? " 

" No, I think I shall walk home by the fields. One gets so 
little walking in the hunting season." 

" Anyhow, you won't be late for dinner." 

" Trust me for that ; I have always a frightful appetite the 
day after hunting." 

Fountains was a farmhouse in the neighborhood of All 
Hallows, and thither, after leaving the office, the young fellow 
went with swift strides. The chimney was, of course, only a 
pretext. A few days previously he had met Mr. Pringle 
" promiscuous in the street," when that gentleman casually 
observed that his kitchen chimney was tumbling down, and 
suggested that the " mending of it " was rather a landlord's 
job than a tenant's. 

Pringle seemed surprised that Charlie had taken his joke 
seriously, and after showing him the chimney and his prize 
bullocks, invited him to step inside and have a glass of home- 
brewed. Charlie being, as he said, pressed for time, prayed 
to be excused, and after taking leave of the farmer made a 
bee line for All Hallows, whistling blithely as he crossed the 



86 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

fields, vaulting all the gates, and feeling generally as if he 
were walking in air. For was he not going to his first love 
tryst ? Little recked the high-spirited lad just then of pru- 
dence and caution, of impending difiiculties and possible 
trials. 

" Olive ! Olive ! Dear Olive ! She loves me. She loves 
me," was his sole thought, a thought which quenched every 
doubt and silenced every misgiving. 

And was it not better so ? Youth is the time of illusion 
and love, the time when life seems endless, and the future 
has no terrors. Let those to whom it is given enjoy it while 
they may. 

As Charlie drew near All Hallows he sobered down some- 
what, and looked sharply about him. The house, which oc- 
cupied the site of an ancient hunting-lodge built by Henry 
VIII., stood on the brow of a gentle acclivity, overlooking a 
spacious park, dotted with noble trees and begirt with broad 
woodlands. The King's Path (so called after the much-mar- 
ried monarch), where Olive had asked Charlie to meet her, 
was a sequestered walk winding between laurel bushes and 
leading to a small lake, nestling in a grove of copper beeches 
and weeping willows, invisible from the house. 

Though the time was winter, the weather was mild, and the 
air balmy. The setting sun was raining gold on Whitethorn 
Wood, and as he sank below the horizon a crescent moon 
mirrored itself in the still waters of the tiny lake. 

It was an ideal trysting-place. 

Charlie, guessing that Olive did not want him to venture 
too near the house, leaned against the bole of a lordly beech 
tree and waited. He was too happy to be impatient, and his 
thoughts were of the pleasantest, and he knew she would 
come. 

Presently a light hand touched him on the shoulder. 
While he was looking one way, Olive had come another, and 
the soft carpet of fallen leaves deadened her footsteps. 

" Dear Olive ! How good of you to come," he exclaimed, 
turning to her. 

He would have clasped her in his arms, but young love is 
often timid, and not yet daring to do more, he took both her 
hands. 

" Dear Olive ! How good of you to come," he repeated 
ardently. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 87 

" I am not sure that it is quite right ; but after yester- 
day it seemed necessary to have an explanation — I feared 
you would be committing some imprudence, and there may 
be no other opportunity for a long time. But, first of all, let 
me thank you again for saving me from a danger which, if it 
had not been my death, would almost certainly have made 
me a cripple for life. I am really very grateful, Charlie ; so 
is my mother, as she will tell you when you call. How can 
I thank you enough ? " 

" By letting me kiss you and saying you love me." 

Then Charlie, taking silence for consent, and growing 
bolder, drew her to him, and looked into her love-bright eyes, 
and took love's tribute from her yielding lips. 

" You love me ? " he said, still holding her in his arms. 

" Do you think I should be here if I did not ? " she returned 
with a happy laugh. " But until yesterday I knew not myself 
how much. I thought my affection for you was no more than 
sisterly. But when I felt that I was safe in your arms, and 
I looked up at your face, and heard you call me dear 
Olive, it was like a revelation. I learnt the truth. What did 
I say ? I am afraid it was something very foolish." 

" That you would rather I had saved you than anybody 
else ; which meant, I thought, that you loved me better than 
anybody else." 

" You might have made a worse guess, my Prince. But 
it must be all love, remember." 

" Naturally, my sweet Olive. Is not love lord of all ? " 

" I did not mean in that sense, you foolish boy. I meant 
that we must not be engaged." 

" In love and not engaged ! How can that be, Olive ? 
You talk in riddles. What is the difference ? " 

" Immense. We cannot help being in love ; love comes of 
itself, but we may help being engaged. In the one case we 
can keep it to ourselves, in the other we should have to tell 
everybody. You would have to ask my mother's consent, 
which you would not get, and tell your own people, and that 
might lead to trouble." 

" So 1 You think your mother would not consent." 

" I am sure. My father disapproved of early marriages. 
I am forbidden to marry before I am twenty-one, and my 
mother disapproves of long engagements, and I fear she 
would also disapprove of you." 



88 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Personally, do you mean ? " 

" Personally, in the sense that she thinks you take life 
too easily and your character is unformed. But that is not 
the point. She would not consent to an engagement now, 
though you were all she could wish ; and if you were to ask 
and be refused you could not come any more to our house ; 
we should not be allowed to meet, and that would not be 
nice, and if I marry without the consent of my guardians, 
who would, of course, be guided by my mother, I forfeit 
my fortune." 

" I don't care anything about your fortune." 

" But I do, I have heard my father say that only fools des- 
pise money, and I think he was right. It would be dreadful 
to marry on narrow means. Fancy not being able to buy 
pictures and have things, and go on the Continent or to 
America whenever you wanted. You must let it be as I say, 
if you please, dear." 

" I see," said Charlie thoughtfully, " we are to regard our- 
selves as being in love, but not engaged. Being in love is 
a state of mind ; an engagement is a quasi-contract. But how 
long .? " 

" Until I am of age. I shall be eighteen next month." 

" So long?" 

" Well, perhaps my mother might consent to our being 
engaged when I am twenty, or so — if you wish it very much, 
and please her in the meantime. But what does it matter so 
long as we love each other. Engaged couples are so stupid. 
Three months wall be quite long enough to be ridiculous. 
And there is another reason for not saying anything — Ed- 
ward." 

" I think I know what you mean. Well, we must keep him 
in the dark — as long as we can. I say, Olive, what a wise 
little head you have got." 

" It is an American head, Charlie, that is the reason. Now 
you must promise not to be jealous if I seem to prefer Edward 
to you sometimes, and let other men pay me little attentions 
— only, of course, to hoodwink the censorious and suspi- 
cious." 

" All right ! I promise. Am I to consider myself at lib- 
erty to pay little attentions to other girls — to hoodwink the 
suspicious, you know." 

" Certainly not. The idea ! Other girls, indeed ! All 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 89 

you have to do is not to pay me marked attention — in public ; 
or look at me too often or too ardently. If you do 1 shall 
flirt outrageously, so mind." 

And then as if to enforce the admonition, she gave him a 
playful tap on the cheek, which Charlie resented, as a Chris- 
tain should, with a kiss. 

" But surely, Olive, you will meet me here sometimes, or 
elsewhere," he said ruefully. 

" If you are good and discreet ; and if we play our parts 
properly and keep them in the dark we shall have many op- 
portunities of exchanging a word. So long as we don't seem 
to care for each other you will be a welcome guest at All Hal- 
lows. And now I am going to read you a lecture. You 
won't be vexed ? " 

Charlie warmly protested that he would not be vexed what- 
ever she said, and putting his arm round her waist and tak- 
ing one of her hands in his he bade her begin. 

"You are a foolish boy," she said, smiling and nestling up 

to him, " and I have a great mind to " 

" What ? " 

" Leave you right away. Let me go." 
" Not until I have had my lecture." 

"We will take that as read, then, as they do at meetings," 
she said with a smile. " You had the substance of it as we 
rode home after that good run with the harriers. But then I 
was talking to you merely as a friend, rather telling you what 
my mother said than I myself thought ; and perhaps she ex- 
aggerated, hoping thereby to make me think less of you." 
" And she did not succeed." 

" No, dear. All the same, I want my mother and my peo- 
ple in New England to think well of you — when they know — 
and if they hear that you are merely a lawyer's clerk, and 
that you give all your energy and your time to sport I am 
afraid it will be just the other way. In America — I mean in 
New England, for I know nothing of the South — everybody 
works, the rich as well as the poor. My mother says she 
would not give a fig for the man who has no occupation, or 
who, having one, does not put all his energies into it. You 
have now a great chance of securing yourself in her good 
opinion. She is grateful for what you did yesterday ; and 
thinks even that there is some advantage in fine horsemanship. 
It is not a question of money. You will have some ; I shall 



9° 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



have a great deal ; it is a question of having a purpose. And 
I need not say how anxious I am that my Prince should be 
well thought of by all who are dear to me." 

" Is that all ? " asked Charlie, after a minute's thought. 

" Yes I have said my say." 

" And a very good say too. What terribly earnest people 
they must be in New England ; and I really don't see the 
good of being rich if you have to work as hard as if you were 
poor. However, I am not rich, and I quite agree with you 
that I ought to work harder than I have done. I knew that 
you would expect me to turn over a new leaf, and I began 
this morning, and did so well as to win high praise both from 
my father and Lillywhite. And I mean to go on. I will win 
your mother's good opinion, and when you meet your toiling 
kinsfolk in New England you shall have no reason to be 
ashamed of your young man. For the remainder of the season 
I shall hunt only two days a week. I am through with my 
articles. Next year my father will give me a small interest, 
and I shall become a member of the firm. As for a purpose, 
I have a threefold purpose — to be as smart a lawyer as Ned, 
as honorable a gentleman as my father, and to make myself 
worthy of the love of the best and dearest and sweetest girl 
in the world." 

" Oh, Charlie, you have made me so happy ! " she cried 
joj'ously. " And you are so clever that you can be anything 
you like." 

" Didn't you know that before ? " 

" I knew you were good and brave, but I was not so sure 
about the cleverness. And — afterwards — my fortune will be 
yours, you know — you must run for Parliament — I am sure 
you could get in for Peele — you must run for Parliament and 
become a great statesman — perhaps Prime Minister." 

" Hadn't I better go to America, and run for the Presi- 
dency ? " 

" You couldn't. You are not a born American. You 
might get naturalized and go into Congress. But no, that 
would not be good enough ; the best people don't go into 
Congress ; our politicians, I am sorry to say, are, for the most 
part, scallawags." 

" That sounds very dreadful, dear, though I have not the 
least idea what it is. Still, on the whole, I think I would 
rather be an English Premier than an American scallawag. 



THE PRINCES OF PEEL E. 91 

I once thought of being a general ; in dreams I have been 
an M. F. H. But I daresay the Premiership would suit me 
almost as well. Yes, I decide for the Premiership." 

After the laugh which this sally provoked had subsided, 
and Olive had observed that more unlikely things had hap- 
pened, she bethought her that it was time for them to part. 
Her mother would be wondering where she was ; and if she 
should send one of the maids to look for her the result would 
be too awful to contemplate. Charlie appreciated too keenly 
the necessity of prudence to press his sweetheart to prolong 
her stay. 

He went with her to a point where the path bent towards 
the house — she would not let him go further for fear he should 
be seen — and there they parted as lovers (engaged or other- 
wise) are wont to part. 

Charlie jumped no gates as he wended hom.ewards ; for 
though happy and exultant, his exultation was not altogether 
free from apprehension. He had accepted new responsibil- 
ities, and the position of an accepted yet unbetrothed lover 
was not entirely to his mind. And if Ned were kept in the 
dark and Olive led him to think that he was not indifferent 
to her. he would have just cause for complaint, and when he 
knew the truth there would be a bitter quarrel, much unpleas- 
antness and, perhaps, lifelong enmity between his brother 
and himself, to the great distress of his father and mother. 
The possibility was undeniable, and Charlie could not help 
asking himself whether it would not be better for him and 
Olive to avow their love and take the consequences ? But 
Olive thought differently ; her will was his law, and when 
he remembered that the avowal would be followed by an 
interdict on their lovemaking and, probably, by Mrs. Lincoln's 
departure from the neighborhood, he felt that he had not 
the courage to advise, or adopt, so bold a course. 

" There will be a row in any case," he soliloquized ; _ " what 
is the good of meeting it half-way ? If we can put it off a 
couple of years that will be so much to the good." 

" How about Pringle's chimney ? " asked his father Avhen 
they met at dinner. 

""^I had my walk for nothing. The chimney only wanted 
pointing and a new pot, and Pringle had it done himself." _ 

" Just like Pringle ; he always calls out before he is 
hurt." 



92 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



" Pringle ! You must have been close to All Hallows. Did 
you call ? " asked Edward suspiciously. 

" No ! But I suppose it will be our duty to call in the 
course of the week. W^ill you go with me ? " 

Edward would rather have gone alone, but seeing that if 
he went alone, Charles would also go alone, he said "yes," 
and it was agreed that they should call on the following 
Thursday. 

Both he and his mother had been a good deal exercised in 
their minds by Charlie's rescue of Olive. 

" I am glad he showed so much courage and presence of 
mind, and it is a mercy dear Olive was not killed," said Mrs. 
Prince. " But I wish you had been the rescuer. It is just 
the sort of thing that makes an impression on a young girl's 
mind — dramatic and romantic and that. However, as Charlie 
cares nothing about girls, and is not her ideal, I don't think 
any harm will come of it." 

Whatever misgivings Edward might have had were set at 
rest by his visit to All Hallows. Mrs. Lincoln thanked Charlie 
warmly for his rescue of Olive and lauded his gallantry, and 
while he talked with the mother Edward talked with the 
daughter, who seemed pleased with his company and was 
more gracious to him than she had ever been before. But 
while her smiles were for him, the responsive pressure of her 
hand was for Charlie, and both brothers went away happy, 
the one in the belief that he had made an impression, the 
other in the assurance that he was the favored swain. 

As owing to bad weather and stress of circumstances the 
King's Path was not always available the lovers had to do 
most of their courting in the hunting field. It was the only 
place where they could talk freely ; and as Mrs. Lincoln had 
asked Charlie to act as her daughter's pilot he was doing no 
more than his duty in looking after her. Nevertheless, when 
Edward was out she rather affected his companj', and gave 
him frequent opportunity of paying her the little attentions 
to which his mother attached so much importance. This 
was generally when they were riding to the meet or drawing 
the first cover ; for, after the fox went away, he had to give 
place to his younger brother, and, as often as not, was either 
left behind or thrown out, the result being that three times 
out of four Olive and Charlie found themselves together at 
the close of the day, and had a delightful ride home together. 



THE PRIA-CES OF PEELE. 



93 



On the whole, however, Edward was well satisfied with the 
way in which things were shaping. The hunting season 
would not last forever, and when it was over his innings 
would begin. Meanwhile, as the result of close observation, 
he had arrived at three very definite and comforting assur- 
ances — that his attentions were beginning to tell, that Olive's 
liking for Charlie, never more than a feeling of ca??iaraderie, 
was fast changing into indifference, and that Charlie had not 
yet turned his thoughts to love. Rather was he turning them 
to business, buckling to, as his father and Lillywhite always 
said he would, and working almost as industriously as his 
elders. 

From all of which it may be inferred that the lovers were 
playing their parts well. They, too, were satisfied, so were 
Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Prince, — the one because she felt 
sure that her fears touching the relations of her daughter and 
Charlie were groundless ; the other because she was equally 
confident that her plan for a marriage between Olive and 
Edward was working to a successful issue. 



94- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XIL 

THROWN OUT. 

It was one of the last days of the season : the winter was 
past and spring was coming forth in all her glory. The 
erstwhile dark wheat fields had donned their livery of green; 
farmers were busy harrowing their meadows and making up 
their fences ; hedgerows were beginning to bud, birds to 
build their nests, and gentleman foxes to ramble from their 
native wilds and be out o' nights. 

It was one of the last days of the season and the Riversdale 
hounds were meeting at Blackthorn. Not a favorite fixture 
by any means, Blackthorn being a great wood, as big as a 
small forest, where it was easy to go astray, and which it was 
difiicult to make a fox quit. On the other hand, Blackthorn 
was a sure find, and when the hounds got away with one of 
the right sort the result was generally satisfactory to the for- 
tunate few who happened to see him break cover or hear the 
halloes of those who did ; to the residue and remainder con- 
fusion and disappointment. 

Nevertheless, there was a full muster, for the weather was 
propitious, and devotees of the sport were eager to put in all 
the hunting they could before Diana for a season bade the 
world farewell. 

Among those present were Olive Lincoln and the two 
Princes, who, with their horses, had " railed " from Peele to 
a station some three miles ride of Blackthorn. En route 
Edward had been very fortunate ; he sat opposite to Olive, 
and talked to her, and feasted his eyes on her all the way ; 
for that had come to pass which he once expressed himself 
to his mother as fearing — he was smitten, and so deeply 
withal that the material advantages which a marriage with 
Miss Lincoln would bring him faded into insignificance as 
compared with the fair girl herself. At the station he super- 
intended the unboxing of Olive's horse, helped her to mount, 
and rode with her to cover, Charlie pairing off with the 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



95 



second Miss Spankaway, one of a trio of red-haired, hard- 
riding sisters. 

At the cover side counsels were divided, even the knowing 
ones hesitating wliither to betake themselves. Some tried to 
follow the hounds into the thick of the wood, others kept in 
the rides or stole round to points where they thought the fox 
might break ; the majority, of whom were our friends, took post 
to windward of the wood. 

While Edward, who had a weakness for big-wigs, was be- 
ing introduced by the secretary to Sir Somebody Something, 
a distinguished stranger from a distance, and Lydia Spanka- 
way was talking to Mrs. Rivers, Charlie exchanged signals 
with Olive, and then turned his horse quietly into a contiguous 
ride. She followed, and presently came up with him. 

" Do you think we are going in the right direction ? " she 
asked. " Have they found a fox .-' " 

" I have not the remotest idea, I wanted to give Ned and 
Lydia Spankaway the slip and have a talk with you, dearest. 
Don't you think I care m.ore for you than for all the foxes in 
the country ? " 

" I hope so. All the same, there is something in your 
tone — you speak as if you were not quite happy." 

"How can I be quite happy? Did not Ned monopolize 
you all the way, and the last time we were out you flirted 
with Teddy Spankaway all the time." 

" How horrid you are, Charlie," returned Olive with her 
prettiest pout. " Didn't you promise not to be vexed if I 
pretended not to care for 3^ou, and let other men pay me 
little attentions ? " 

" I call them big attentions, and you flirt as if you liked it," 
muttered the young fellow. 

" Well, I do, just a little. It is great fun. Your brother 
was quite wild when I was flirting with your friend Teddy the 
other day, and I dearly like to tease Edward. He thinks so 
much of himself. All the same, I almost think I did him 
an injustice in saying that my fortune was the exclusive ob- 
ject of his affections. I begin to think he is half in love with 
me." 

" Of course he is ; everybody is." 

" Not quite so bad as that, I hope, Charlie dear. You 
must not imagine that everybody is as infatuated as yourself. 
And don't be jealous and absurd. Rather give me credit for 



96 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

tact and fine managem-ent. Nobody either suspects us or 
talks about us ; and you know that I love you. What would 
you have more ? " 

Charlie saw that it was time to climb down, 

" You are quite right. You are always right," he said, 
penitently. " I am an ass, a dolt, and you are wise and 
clever. But I love you so dearly that I begrudge every smile 
that you give to another. It is one the less for me." 

" You avaricious wretch ! Cannot you console yourself 
with Lydia Spankaway ? She is always smiling on you." 

" Hang Lydia Spankaway ! She is always smiling on every- 
body. Her life is a perpetual giggle." 

The words were hardly spoken when the young woman in 
question and her brother came tumbling out of the wood a 
few yards ahead of them. 

" Where are the hounds ? " asked the brother. 

" That is just the question I was going to ask you, Teddy," 
said Charlie. 

" We tried to follow them into the hollow and got bogged." 

" Of course." 

" By Jove, I believe I heard a hallo. Come along, Lydia. 
Won't you come, Prince ? " 

" No. We are just as well here, and if you ride to every 
semblance of a shout you hear, your horse will be used up 
before the fun begins." 

" It's a view hallo. I'll swear it's a view hallo," exclaimed 
the youth excitedly. " Come along, Lydia. If they have 
gone away I'll give a screech, and if they come this way, you 
do as much for us, there's a good fellow." 

And with that Mr. Spankaway and his sister went off at 
full gallop. 

" Do you think they are gone away ? " inquired Olive, 
anxiously. 

" As likely as not." 

" Then why ? " 

" Why don't we ride after the Spankaways ? Because I 
would rather ride home with you, darling ! " 

" Ride home with me .'' What ? Listen ! I am sure that 
is Teddy screeching." 

" Let him screech. I'd rather ride quietly home with you 
than have a galloping run of forty minutes without a check. 
It is almost our last chance. The season is as good as over, 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 97 

and I doubt whether we shall be able to contrive a tete-a- 
tete oi more than a few minutes all summer. Now the days are 
so long the King's Path is not safe — too many people about." 

" But isn't it a very long way, and won't it seem strange ? " 

" Only fifteen miles, and our horses are fresh, and we can 
gruel them and get a cup of tea at the Beehive. And there 
is nothing strange in losing hounds in Blackthorn high woods. 
Half the field will be in the same fix ; and having lost them, 
it will be better for us to go straight home than potter about 
here for the remainder of the day, or wait in the village for 
the 4.30 train." 

" I am not sure that it will be quite wise," said Olive 
passively. " All the same ; if it will give you pleasure " 

" Give me pleasure ? Oh, Olive, if you only knew. This 
way," and with that he turned his horse in the direction of 
Teddy Spankaway's last screech. 

" You are going to look for the hounds, then ? " 

" We must find out what has become of them. They may 
be in the wood yet. It would never do to leave without having 
a proper tale to tell when we get home." 

Olive smiled. It pleased her to think that, impetuous 
though he was, her lover had not altogether lost sight of 
prudence. 

As they went on they were joined by many others, and 
presently the master himself came up in a great heat and 
asked the question everybody else was asking, " Where are 
the hounds ? " and like everybody else got no answer. 

" I do believe they have slipped away," he said. 

And so it proved. On reaching the confines of the wood 
they found there several yokels and second horsemen, from 
whom they learnt that the hounds had gone away ten minutes 
previously. Quickly and some two score gentlemen with 
them, very fast, and as it seemed, running towards Sand- 
ford. 

" What a sell ! " chorused twenty voices. 

" I shall go on and try to nick in ; they may check or run 
a ring," said the master, and off he went, followed by a dozen 
of the belated ones, whose number was continually increasing. 

" Not a bit of use," said another, " Ten minutes' start 
and a fast thing. They will only hammer their horses' legs 
to pieces on the hard high-road. I shall chuck it ijp and go 
home." 



98 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I suppose we had better do the same," observed Charlie 
to Olive, as if the idea were occurring to him for the first 
time. " If we try to overtake them we shall only use up our 
horses to no purpose." 

" You think it would be a vain pursuit, then } " 

" Decidedly." 

" Very well. Let us go home, then. Which is the way ? " 

Several of the others set off with them ; but they soon 
parted company, and Charlie had Olive all to himself for the 
rest of the ride, and a delightful, long drawn out ride it 
was — through green lanes and pleasant bridle-paths, past 
ancient halls nestling among trees, farmhouses with red roofs 
and high gables, and barns such as are not built nowadays 
— big enough for cathedrals — and quaintly picturesque 
churches, whose ivy-mantled towers looked down on the 
dust of twenty generations. 

At the Beehive, an old timbered inn, which had been a 
house of entertainment since the dissolution of the monaster- 
ies, the travellers halted to bait their horses and refresh 
themselves. Tea was served in a snug little parlor with 
black oak wainscoting and diamond shaped window panes, 
looking into a venerable garden ; and as there was nobody 
in the garden, and the lovers were sole occupants of the 
parlor, they were quite happy, forgetting for a while every- 
thing but themselves and their love, and lingering perhaps 
longer than was altogether wise. Nevertheless, they reached 
home an hour sooner than they would have done had they 
returned by rail. 

" What will Edward say? " asked Olive, as they reined up 
at All Hallows lodge gates. 

" I do not see that he has a right to say anything. I am 
your duly appointed pilot ; and I have taken you home 
many a time before." 

" The circumstances were very different, though. We 
have been alone nearly all day, and he will be vexed at being 
left to train home by himself — perhaps say something to 
mother which may reawaken her suspicions. Anyhow, for 
the next few weeks we shall need to be extremely circum- 
spect, and I will be very gracious to Edward. No, don't 
come up to the house with me. If mother thinks you are 
neglecting me, so much the better. Good-night, Charlie, 
dear." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



99 



" Good-night, darling. This has been the happiest day I 
ever had in my life." 

" I hope we may not have to pay a heavy price for it," 
thought Olive as she trotted up the avenue, " but something 
tells me that Edward will be very angry — and I distrust him 
more than I like to let Charlie know. Dear old Charlie ! 
How strange it is that two brothers should be so different." 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

JEALOUS. 

Edward did not miss the lovers until some time after 
they had stolen away. Then, after making several fruitless 
inquiries, he went to look for them. He might as well have 
looked for a needle in a haystack ; but while he was seek- 
ing the lovers he found the hounds, and the hounds found a 
fox. Feeling sure that he was now on the right track, he 
rode to the first whip's in view hallo, and was one of the 
first out of the wood ; and having no doubt that he should 
presently encounter Charlie and Olive (who were generally 
in the first flight) went boldly on. But the field being rather 
scattered and the country rather heavily timbered, he looked 
for the fugitives in vain, and had to console himself with 
the reflection that he should find them with the hounds 
checked — or, at any rate, at the end of the run, which he 
devoutly hoped would not be long. It lasted a good hour ; 
the latter part of it, however, being rather slow, and ended 
in the middle of a covert, where Reynard ran into a drain 
and could not be persuaded to come out and be killed. 

Edward, who thanks to easy fences and a line of gates, 
was well up, looked round, and when he saw nothing of those 
whom he sought his first feeling was a sense of elation. He 
had beaten his brother for once. But when the last of the 
laggards appeared on the scene, and the said brother and 
the young lady were still invisible, he began to feel uneasy. 

" Have you seen anything of my brother and Miss Lin- 
coln .? " he asked of Teddy Spankaway, who was standing at 
his horse's head, devouring a ham sandwich and drinking 
whiskey and water from an electro-plated flask. 

" The last time I saw them was in Blackthorn Wood and 
very thick they seemed." 

" Thick ! What do you mean ? " 

" They were in close converse, and very near together — 
heads almost touching, in fact — and though I told them I 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. loi 

had heard a hallo, and when I knew the hounds were run- 
ning gave a screech which I am sure they must have heard, 
they did not come on. Anyhow they are out of it, and I 
expect that is where they want to be. That brother of yours 
is a sly dog. Prince, and Miss Lincoln is a deuced nice girl." 

And then Mr. Spankaway, who was himself rather sweet 
on Olive, and jealous of Charlie, laughed maliciously and 
offered Edward his flask. Edward tried to look unconcerned, 
muttered something about the possibility of anybody losing 
hounds in Blackthorn Wood, and asked whether they were 
going to draw again. 

" Of course we are, as soon as the master turns up. He 
has been thrown out — not often that happens, though — and 
I expect Quickly will take the hounds back on the off chance 
of falling in with him. Do you know your horse has lost a 
shoe ? " 

" Confound it ! So he has. Where is there a forge ? " 

" Down the road to the right ; near the windmill." 

The loss of the shoe delayed Edward half-an-hour, and 
when he set his face towards Blackthorn, hounds and hunters 
were nowhere to be seen ; but presently he met a groom 
with a lame horse, who was able to tell him that Mr. Brown 
had fallen in with the hounds, and that his brother and Miss 
Lincoln were gone home. 

" But there is no train till 4.30." 

" I think they are hacking all the way, sir." 

" The deuce they are ! " and Edward Prince went on, look- 
ing as black as thunder and in a very evil frame of mind. 

Teddy Spankaway's words had reawakened the suspicion he 
had once entertained, that Olive and Charlie had a sneaking 
kindness for, and, perhaps, a secret understanding with each 
other. 

" It looks like a planned thing," he thought. " It looks as 
if they had stopped in the covert on purpose. Anybody 
may lose hounds in that horrid M^ood ; but why did not 
they come on with Brown, and why, oh wh)?^, have they 
gone home by road without waiting for me, or making an 
effort to find me ? It is not fair, it is not right, it is scarcely 
courteous." 

Edward was furiously jealous ; the idea of being supplanted 
by his brother, whom in his heart he rather despised, 
was gall and wormwood to him, and he had made so sure 



102 THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 

that Olive liked him and cared no more for Charlie than 
Charlie cared for her that the disappointment was doubly 
bitter. He had been deceived, played with, made a "spoon 
handle of," and he said in his anger that he would let " those 
two " see that he could not be befooled with impunity. 

But when he cooled down somewhat and considered the 
matter further, he perceived that he had really very little 
ground for complaint ; the existence of a secret understanding 
between Olive and Charlie had still to be proved. Spankaway, 
a mere sporting man, who regarded coarse jokes as high wit, 
was quite capable of straining a point to provoke a laugh. 
He had no doubt grossly exaggerated, if not actually invented ; 
and, after all, there was nothing very alarming in Charlie 
and Olive being left behind for once in a way, and hacking 
home instead of v/aiting for a train. In like circumstances 
he would probably have done the same. 

Notwithstanding this commendable effort to weigh both 
sides of the question Edward was suspicious still. Though 
the circumstances were consistent with either theory, the 
thoughts and memories which came unbidden to his mind 
fed the flame of his jealousy, and he felt intensely anxious to 
know the truth. But how was he to know it ? He could not 
openly ask Charlie without risking a rebuff and showing his 
own hand. He was neither his brother's keeper nor Olive's 
guardian. Charlie had just as much right to fall in love with 
her as he had, and would certainly refuse to disclose anything 
which might compromise her, or which he desired in his own 
interest or hers to keep secret. 

After long cogitation Edward made up his mind to dissemble 
his jealousy and keep his suspicions to himself. Until he 
had evidence that Olive and Charlie were carrying on a clan- 
destine courtship he would not say a word to anybody — even 
to his mother. But he would seek for evidence, leave no 
stone unturned to obtain it, and when he had obtained it, 
act. How, he could not, as yet, decide ; that would depend 
on circumstances ; only he was fully resolved that Olive 
should be his and not Charlie's. The mere thought that he 
might lose her angered him almost past bearing. He had 
known for sometime that he loved Olive, but never until 
then had he realized the intensity of his passion, and how 
necessary to his happiness she was become. 

CharUe, indeed ! Charlie's partiality for Olive — if it ex- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 103 

isted — was mere calf love, the fugitive fancy of an overgrown 
boy, who took no thought for the morrow ; his, the strong 
love of a mature man, who had formed definite views of life 
and meant to get on. If the matter were fairly put to Olive 
there could, he felt sure, be no question as to her choice. 
Meanwhile, the fair putting being neither feasible nor expe- 
dient, there was nothing for it but to wait, and, as Edward 
said to himself, everything comes to the man who knows 
how to wait — and watch. 

His first question to the groom who met him at Peele 
station was whether his brother had returned. 

" Yes, sir ; he hacked." 

" He got home early, then ? " 

" Not very. About half-past five, I think. It is a longish 
way from Blackthorn." 

" Fifteen miles ; they took five hours to ride fifteen miles, 
and their horses quite fresh," thought Edward. " What 
could they be doing all the time ? " And the demon of 
jealousy gnawed harder at his heart than ever. But when 
he got home and met Charlie in the hall he smiled pleasantly. 

" A nice fellow you are, to run away and leave me to come 
home alone," quoth he. 

" Nay, it was you who ran away and left us. \Mien we 
got out of the covert you were non est, and you had been gone 
so long that there was no chance of overtaking you. So we 
just hacked home, Olive and I." 

" You did not stop anywhere, then ? " 

" Only at the Beehive to gruel. Had you a good run > " 

" A regular clinker, A good sixty minutes, first twenty as 
fast as we could leg it, and lost the fox in a drain at Slasher's 
Mill." 

" And we were out of it ! But make haste and get changed. 
The pater v/ants you in his room." 

" What's in the wind now ? " 

" A family council. You are required to make it complete, 
so hurry up." 

Edward, though particular about his person, and generally 
slow over his toilet, did hurry up, and, on entering his father's 
room some fifteen minutes later, found the other members of 
the family in deep consultation. The matter was this : — 

The firm of Lincoln, Lyman, and Jump (whose affairs were 
in Chancery) had made heavy advances to one of their 



I04 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

correspondents in Trinidad, on the security of various 
properties there. The correspondent in question having 
failed, and the amount involved being large, and the business 
complicated, it was considered necessary to send somebody 
out to protect the interests of the house and realize the 
hypothecated properties ; and in the opinion of the Vice- 
Chancellor no gentleman could so well perform this duty as 
Mr. Leonard Prince ; he was a lawyer, a man of business, 
and had all the facts at his fingers' ends. Would he accept 
the commission, and on what terms "i 

" The letter came after you were gone, this morning," 
said Mr. Prince to Edward, " and, as you see, it requires 
a prompt answer. Mother and Charlie are rather for it. 
They are pleased to think the trip would do me good. What 
is your opinion .-* " 

Edward was also rather for it. Like the others, he thought 
the trip would do his father good ; moreover, during his 
absence he would naturally take his father's place in the 
office, and represent him in the town, and the idea pleased 
Edward. But he was not the man to answer an important 
question by simply saying ditto to somebody else. 

" What is your opinion "i " repeated Mr. Prince. 

" What is my opinion ? " said Edward, knitting h'is brows 
and looking wondrous wise. " This is a very serious matter, 
and requires a good deal of consideration. Mother and 
Charlie think the trip would do j^ou good. I hope they 
are right ; but what is their authority ? These West India 
Islands are not generally supposed to be the most healthy 
places in the world." 

" Mr. Lincoln had been several times to Trinidad, and I 
have heard him say that the island was healtliy and the 
voyage there pleasant." 

" Then we may regard that point as settled. The next is, 
can you be spared ? " 

" That is rather for you to say. Charlie has been doing 
very well lately, and I don't see why you, and he, and Lilly- 
white should not be able to do without me for three or four 
months ; and the pay I get for going out would be all to the 
good." 

" Less the extra premium on your life policy." 

Mr. Prince's countenance fell. Something was always 
happening to remind him of that terrible skeleton. Only the 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 105 

week before Peploe and Pope had written to say that they 
doubted whether they should be able to pay any more 
interest. 

" I had not thought of that," he said gravely. " It is not 
indisputable, yet." 

" It does not become indisputable for two years. In the 
meantime you are limited to Europe and North America. 
But the company would give you a license." 

" Of course they would. But upon what terms .'' You had 
better go to town to-morrow and ascertain. If they make 
any charge at all it should be something quite nominal ; as 
my policy permits me to cross the Atlantic the mere voyage 
involves no extra risk, and the trip out and home, and the 
change and that, can hardly fail to benefit my health." 

" That is a good point. I will urge it," said Ned, making 
a memorandum in his note-book. " If this can be arranged 
you will go, of course." 

" I think so. It will be an agreeable trip, and a new ex- 
perience ; and they cannot give me less than five hundred 
and my expenses." 

" Five hundred is not enough, father. Shall I arrange 
that for you also while I am in town ? " 

" By all means, Ned. You are a better hand at a bargain 
than I am, and will probably get more than I should dare to 
ask. And now, having finished our business, let us go in to 
dinner." 

The next morning Edward went to London, and justified 
his father's opinion of his business capacity by making two 
satisfactory bargains. By persuading the assurance company 
that the contemplated voyage could not fail to benefit his 
father's health he obtained the license on very favorable 
terms, and by taking the opposite tack with the Chancery 
people — dwelling on the perils of ocean travelling and the 
manifold dangers of a tropical climate (especially for a man 
at his father's time of life) — he obtained a hundred and fifty 
pounds more than the sum which Mr. Prince had named, and 
with which he would have been content. 

Edward called this diplomacy, his father would have called 
it sharp practice — if he had known the facts — but Mr. 
Prince was too well satisfied with the result to be inquisitive 
about details, and the money would be very useful. 

The license granted by the Insurance Company (in con- 



lo6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

sideration of a payment of twenty pounds) was for a voyage 
to Trinidad and back per Royal Mail steamer, and the perils 
incident thereto, and a residence in the island not exceeding 
three months — unless Mr. Prince should be detained there 
longer than that period by circumstances beyond his 
control. 

For a hundred and thirty pounds more the Company would 
have anticipated the time by which the policy was to become 
indisputable and made it "good for all the world." But as 
this seemed to Edward like paying so much money for noth- 
ing, he elected for the conditional license, and plumed him- 
self on having scored a great success. But it is possible to 
be too clever, and in the issue Edward discovered that the 
proverb about a penny saved being a penny gained is not of 
universal application. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 107 



CHAPTER XIV. 

lillywhite's demand. 

Mr. Prince's main (though unconfessed) reason for de- 
siring to go to the West Indies was that he might get away 
from the skeleton for a time. With tliree or four thousand 
miles of ocean rolling between them, it would (metaphorically) 
be out of sight, and, as he hoped, out of mind. The fresh 
scenes he should behold and the new and varied impressions 
he should receive must needs divert the current of his thoughts, 
and he would enjoy a short interlude of peace, which he sorely 
needed, for latterly the skeleton had been unpleasantly ob- 
trusive. 

After paying the agreed interest in full, though intermit- 
tently, for three years Peploe and Pope had suddenly ceased 
their remittances and intimated pretty plainly that it was un- 
likely they would ever be resumed. This meant a loss of 
six hundred a year ; and the premium on the triple life policy 
brought up to a thousand pounds, per annum the cost of 
keeping the skeleton under lock and key. But for the profits 
arising out of the Lincoln lawsuit the burden would have 
been almost more than Mr. Prince could bear without mak- 
ing such retrenchments as would seriously affect his position 
in the town. For Mrs. Lincoln's sake he wanted the suit to 
end ; for his own, it was better for it to go on — a conflict of 
interest that sometimes rendered it difficult for him to advise 
his client with that singleness of purpose which for three 
generations had been the rule of the office. 

Edward, on the other hand, was rather disposed, for finan- 
cial reasons, to protract the suit, and father and son had 
occasionally " words " on the subject. The young man had, 
moreover, an unpleasant way of referring to the skeleton as 
that " terrible business," and hinting that in using Mrs. Lin- 
coln's trust fund to square Peploe and Pope, his father had 
committed a fatal mistake. This Mr. Prince knew only too 
well : but he did not like being told so. It was as bad as 



io8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

rubbing bay salt into an open wound. Nor did he in his 
heart approve in his wife's project for making a match be- 
tween Edward and Olive. There was something underhand 
about it ; he had a great regard for Olive, and felt sure that 
Edward and she would not pull well together. But Dorothy- 
had set her mind on it, and if he could not successfully op- 
pose her alone much less could he do so when she was sup- 
ported by Edward, who was a host in himself, and to whom 
the knowledge of the secret gave additional power. 

Oppressed by all these cares, and feeling as he had never 
felt before the weight of years, there were times when Mr. 
Prince wished himself dead. His death would settle every- 
thing, the assurance money make good his breach of trust, 
and though he could not leave his sons a fortune he should 
leave them an excellent business, and a name free from re- 
proach. These fits of depression were, however, infrequent, 
and he was forgetting his worries in the work of preparing 
for the approaching voyage, and beginning to contemplate 
the future more hopefully, when an incident occurred that 
revived his fears, and gave him the most severe shock he had 
sustained since the discovery of Jack's defalcations. 

Two or three days before his departure he was in his room, 
looking over papers, and making notes for Edward's guidance 
during his absence, when the door opened and in walked 
Lillywhite. In this there was nothing unusual, but the de- 
liberation of the managing clerk's movements, and the solem- 
nity of his visage, bespoke the importance of his errand. 

" What is it, now, Lillywhite .'' " said Mr. Prince, looking 
up. " Has our best client run away without paying his bill 
of costs, or does Mr. Trumpler want a new will making ? " 

Instead of greeting his employer's joke with a smile, Lilly- 
white looked more solemn than ever, 

" It is not office business this time, Mr. Prince. It's touch- 
ing a matter personal to our two selves that I want a word 
with you." 

" Can he want his salary raised ? " thought Mr. Prince. 
" All right, Lillywhite. If there is anything I can do for you, 
I am sure I shall be very happy " 

" You set sail on Friday ? " 

" God bless me ! Is that what j^ou had to say ? " quoth 
Mr. Prince with a laugh. " Yes, I set sail on Friday." 

" I hope you will come back, sir." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 109 

" 'Pon mv word, Lillywhite ! Of course I shall come back. 
Why not?" 

" Well, there's a sight of water between this and the West 
Indies ; and where there is water there is danger. I never 
liked it — -neither inside or out. I don't want to discourage 
you, sir, but I cannot help thinking that it is a very hazardous 
undertaking for a gentleman at your time of life. And as 
you may never come back, though I sincerely hope you will, 
I should like to have a proper understanding." 

" As to what ? For heaven's sake come to the point, Lilly- 
white. For you know how busy I am." 

" My position in the office." 

" Your position will be what it has been — that of managing 
clerk." 

" Under Mr. Edward ? " 

" Of course. You surely don't suppose that he will be 
under you ? " 

" He might do worse. He has not all the sense in the 
world, though he evidently thinks so ; and his manner to me 
is often very discourteous, almost offensive, indeed ; and if 
I am to be under him during your absence, he must promise 
to treat me with becoming respect, also I should like a slight 
increase of salary." 

" Anything else .'' " asked Mr. Prince, sarcastically. " You 
had better open your mouth wide enough while you are about 
it." 

" Not at present. I think that will do till you come 
back." 

" Not at present ! Gad, you speak as if you were surprised 
at your own moderation. You have been with me a long 
time — more than twenty years." 

" Twenty-two on the tenth of next month." 

" Twenty-two, then ; and served me well and faithfully, 
and I have treated you handsomely, giving you my entire 
confidence, and letting you have pretty nearly your own way 
in everything. In point of fact, I have spoiled you. It is 
as Edward said the other day. You cannot stand corn. You 
are getting above yourself." 

" Edward said that, did he ? I am obliged to him," inter- 
posed the managing clerk, with an angry shake of his portent- 
ous nose, which, after blushing violently, had become almost 
blue. 



no THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" You are getting above yourself," repeated Mr, Prince, 
heedless of the interruption, " and as your demands are 
unreasonable and cannot be complied with, I fear we shall 
have to part — unless 3'ou choose to withdraw them. Think 
about it, Lillywhite. I should be sorry for you to decide 
hastily." 

" I have thought about it already, and my mind is made 
up. But before you finally make up yours, sir, there is one 
observation I should like to make. You say you have given 
me your entire confidence. So you have — with one exception 
• — and<a very important exception." 

" What is that, Lillywhite 1 " 

" The matter of your son John and Peploe and Pope." 

Mr. Prince turned as pale as if the cupboard had opened 
of itself and the skeleton had walked into the room, 

" My son John — Peploe and Pope ! What do you mean ? " 
he exclaimed, trying to keep his countenance. 

" I guess you know, sir," returned Lillywhite grimly. " I 
can perhaps put two and two together, and likewise see as 
far into a stone wall as anybody else. When Peploe came 
here three or four years since I thought something was 
wrong — he would not come all the way from Liverpool for 
nothing — and when I heard that Mr. John had got into debt 
and run away I felt sure something was wrong, I took 
Peploe's measure. He would not have cared a button top 
how much Mr, John got into debt — so long as it was not to 
him. So I put two and two together and from certain things 
that happened at that time and afterwards I came to the 
conclusion that you had sold out Mrs. Lincoln's " 

" Lillywhite, I did not expect this of you," interrupted Mr, 
Prince in a voice of bitter reproach, " You have been play- 
ing as spy, prying into affairs that do not concern you, and I 
very much fear opening my private letters." 

" No, sir ! no, sir ! no, sir ! " thundered the clerk, empha- 
sizing each denial with a resounding thump of his fist on the 
table, " I never opened a private letter of yours in my life. 
I would scorn to stoop to any such rascality. I am curious, 
I know, but I am not a scoundrel. But those w^ho run may 
read, Mr. Prince. The outward appearance of a letter, like 
the outward appearance of a man, often gives a clue to what 
is inside. The way of it was this, sir ; when that unfortu- 
nate affair took place, and I saw that you could not or would 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 1 1 1 

not trust me, I felt hurt, and I resolved to fathom the mystery 
— by strictly honorable means, of course. Peploe comes, 
unexpectedly, stays a long time, and leaves you much dis- 
turbed. The next day you go off and don't return for three 
or four days. You decline to sell out Mrs. Lincoln's stock 
and lend the money on mortgage as I proposed. Neverthe- 
less, there comes a letter from the Bank of England, which 
unless I am much mistaken, was an intimation that applica- 
tion had been made for power of attorney to sell out stock, 
and I knew, of course, that Mrs. Lincoln's was the only 
trust money we had in Consols ; also, before that her divi- 
dends passedthrough my hands, whereas, afterwards, you took 
the management of the trust entirely into your own. From 
these, and other circumstances, which I need not mention, I 
drew certain conclusions." 

" Ah ! You drew certain conclusions. \Vhat were they ? 
You may speak fully ; but bear in mind, please, that infer- 
ences are not evidence, and I admit nothing." 

" I did not suppose you would, sir — at first. It is a safe 
rule not to admit anything. Well, my conclusions — or if you 
like it better, my suspicions — amounted to this ; that your 
son got into trouble about a bit of paper, or something of the 
kind, and to prevent him from being prosecuted you made 
up the deficiency by — shall we say borrowing ? — the whole or 
the greater part of Mrs. Lincoln's trust fund. When Mr. 
John appeared here a little while ago, disguised as a tramp, 
these suspicions became absolute certainty. People don't 
run away and return in disguise for nothing more serious than 
contracting debts which they are unable to pa3^" 

" Jack here ! Jack in disguise ! " exclaimed Mr. Prince, 
after a long stare of bewilderment and surprise. " Preposter- 
ous ! It is absurd, impossible. This is an invention of your 
own, Lillywhite, a wicked invention." 

" It is no invention, sir, though I judge by your manner 
that you were not aware of the circumstance," returned the 
clerk quietly. " I saw Mr. John with my own eyes." 

" You did, really, Lillywhite ? You are sure you are not 
deceiving me ? " said JNIr. Prince, in a husky voice, as he 
wiped away the sweat which stood in big beads on his fore- 
head. 

" I did, sir, and I am not the only one that saw him. One 
evening, about the end of October or the beginning of 



112 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

November — I have the exact date in my diary — I met a tramp 
in Church-lane, in whose appearance, though his clothes 
were ragged, and he had a patch over his left eye, there was 
something strangely familiar to me. All the same, I could 
not make him out, but I'm naturally of a curious turn, and as 
I never like to have an unsatisfied doubt on my mind, I 
just followed my young gentleman, which the growing dark- 
ness enabled me to do without attracting his attention. He 
took the road to Holmcroft, and when I saw him enter your 
grounds the mystery was solved. I knew that the tramp was 
John Prince." 

Mr. Prince's face broke into a smile of relief. It was not 
as bad as he thought. Lillywhite was either trying to impose 
on him or had found a mare's nest, 

" What nonsense ! " he said. " How could you know any- 
thing of the sort ? Not a day passes that half-a-dozen unrec- 
ognizable tramps don't come begging to Holmcroft." 

" Wait a minute, sir, I have not done yet. On the follow- 
ing night I happened to drop into the ' Blue Bear,' and there 
met Turnbull, the leather-seller, who was just back from 
London. He went by parliamentary train the same morning, 
and saw a man with a patch over his left eye, who got in at 
Peele and got out at London, for all the world like John 
Prince." 

" It was not John Prince. It could not be John Prince. 
Do you think that if he had been here and come to Holmcroft 
I should not have known ? You are mistaken and Turnbull 
is a fool. And now let us come to the point. I have no 
time for more talk. You think you have found something 
out and want paying for j'our silence. Mind, I don't admit 
you have found anything out of importance, and if you were 
to say outside what you have been saying to me now I should 
either treat it with silent contempt or prosecute you for slan- 
der. But I detest scandal and I don't want to have my 
family affairs discussed in every tap-room in the town. 

" So let me know, please, at how much you value your 
silence, which, allow me to remind you, it is your duty to ob- 
serve in any circumstances. To divulge anything you may 
have learnt here would be — a gross breach of trust," Mr. 
Prince was going to say, but remembering that he had him- 
self committed a still grosser offence of the same sort and 
fearing a tu quoque, he stopped short. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 113 

" Oh sir, you do me a great injustice," protested Lillywhite, 
in a tone of injured innocence, which Mr. Prince thought 
was put on, but which may well have been sincere. " You 
do me a great injustice. All that comes to my knowledge 
professionally I regard as sacred ; but what I discover is 
surely my own property, in the sense that I may keep it secret 
or not at my pleasure. And I ask no price for my silence — 
merely such a modest increase of my salary as my long and 
faithful services deserve — say a hundred a year — and the as- 
surance that during your absence Mr. Edward will treat me 
with ordinary courtesy and respect." 

" I engage that he shall do so. You shall also have the 
increase you ask for, but you will please to remember that if 
you do not observe the most absolute discretion we shall have 
to part. When Mr. Edward comes in be good enough to tell 
him I would like to speak to him." 

The clerk, who was evidently rather taken aback by the 
firmness of his principal's manner, rose from his chair, 
bowed and retired. 

" D Ivlr. Edward," he muttered when he was outside. 

" I'll be even with that jackanapes one of these days. The 
governor put a better face on it towards the last than I ex- 
pected. But he could not deny it : he could not deny it — • 
and if he had given me his confidence at the beginning he 
would have saved himself a hundred a year." 

" My God, what a life," murmured Mr. Prince, leaning his 
head on his hands. " Why did I let Dorothy over persuade 
me ? Why didn't I have the courage of my opinions and face 
the thing ? It would have been forgotten by this time. , . . 
How I have been deceived. And Lillywhite ! He professes 
to be hurt because I did not give him my confidence. That 
would not have mended matters at all. I should be more 
in his power than I am now ; and I fancy he cares quite as 
much for power as money. If he had asked for two hundred 
I should have had to give it him." 

Presently Edward came in. His father told him what had 
happened. 

" Dear me ! Dear me ! " he exclaimed. " That terrible 
business again. What will be the end of it ? " 

" That is the question I often ask myself. I often think 
it will be the end of me, and that would perhaps be the best 
of all. The insurance money would put everything straight. 



114 "^^^ PRINCES OF PEELE. 

One man can steal ahorse, while another may not look over a 
gate. It seems hard that I should be harassed in this way 
for a single dereliction of duty — the only one, as I can truly 
say, which I ever committed." 

" It was worse than a dereliction of duty, father. It was 
a blunder. And I am rather afraid, it was another blunder 
giving in to Lillywhite. He knows nothing ; it is all surmise. 
In your place I should have set him at defiance." 

" No, no, Ned, that would not do at all. If I did that I 
should make an enemy of him at once. He would talk. 
Think what a fine handle such a rumor would be for the 
Radicals. Mrs. Lincoln would be sure to hear of it, and 
though she should regard it as a base calumny she might 
propose to lessen my responsibility by appointing another 
trustee; and a trustee in my position should be above suspi- 
cion Do you know, I think Lillywhite really be- 
lieved that the tramp he saw going to Holmcroft was 
Jack ! " 

" Very likely. Nothing is easier than to confound one 
person with another — especially after dark. The leather- 
seller's story also belongs to the category of illusions. You 
may depend upon it that Jack is thousands of miles away 
from Peele." 

" I hope he is. All the same — poor Jack ! " and the 
father's eyes filled with tears. 

Edward had very promptly decided to treat Lillywhite's 
statements as illusory, partly out of a commendable desire 
not to add to his father's anxieties on the eve of his depart- 
ure ; mainly because his father would be sure to tell his 
mother, and he feared her reproaches for keeping her in 
ignorance of the scapegrace's return and sending him away 
without giving her an opportunity of seeing him. 

When Edward left his father's room he took Lillywhite 
aside. 

" My father has told me what passed between you a little 
while ago," he said. " You want to be treated with more 
courtesy it seems. Well, I will treat you with more courtesy. 
Not because I am afraid of you, mind ; merely because of 
my father's promise. But if I had been in his place, I 
should have promised nothing. I should have told you to 
do your worst." 

" Then you would have done a very bad thing, sir. Your 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



"5 



father is a wiser man than you are ; though I daresay you 
don't think so." 

Edward certainly did not think so. He looked on his 
father as old-fashioned, and lacking in judgment and resolu- 
tion, and felt quite sure that he could have managed things 
a great deal better. 



Ii6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XV. 

HER AMERICAN COUSIN. 

When it was fully decided that Mr. Prince should go to 
Trinidad and his passage was taken, and the day of his de- 
parture drew near, Mrs. Prince began to waver in her opinion 
as to the expediency of the undertaking ; and cruel doubts 
assailed her mind. The voyage might do him good, the re- 
sulting gain would be very satisfactory — all to the good, as 
Mr. Prince had several times observed — but the way was 
long, the seas were treacherous, and shipwrecks, alas ! only 
too common. It was hardly possible to open a newspaper 
without reading of some fresh disaster. What if disaster 
were to overtake him ? What if the ship in which he was 
to sail should be lost ? She would never forgive herself for 
allowing him to go. The mere thought thrilled her with an- 
guish, and if she had not confided her fears to Mrs. Lincoln 
it is quite likely that she would have made an effort to prevent 
her husband from implementing the agreement which she 
herself had sanctioned. 

Mrs. Lincoln, who had a cheery manner and a sympathetic 
nature, comforted her friend with kindly words. 

" Danger ! " she said. " Do you know, I believe there is 
no more danger at sea than on land. I have crossed the 
Atlantic twenty times, and I don't believe I was ever in more 
danger than I am at this moment. And there is less danger 
in a voyage to the West Indies than to New York. In going 
south you encounter neither icebergs nor fogs (she wisely 
said nothing of earthquakes and cyclones). Once out of 
European waters you are sailing in summer seas. You leave 
winter and hard weather behind you, and have nothing to do 
but read novels and bask in the sun. The voyage will do 
your husband all the good in the world : he will have a real 
good time, and come back looking ten years younger. He 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



117 



needs a change. He has been looking very fagged lately, 
don't you think ? " 

" I don't think he is looking quite so well as he used to 
do." 

" It is a long time since he has looked as well as he did 
when I first knew him. It is all this dreadful lawsuit. 
Merely to think of it makes my head ache. No wonder, 
with such a weight on his mind, he looks ill. But don't 
worry. The voyage will set him right. And don't damp 
his spirits by losing your own. Let him go away cheerful, 
whatever you do." 

Mrs. Prince, who had an uneasy feeling that the cause of 
her husband's fagged looks lay much deeper than any law- 
suit, took this advice in good part. She also allowed Mrs. 
Lincoln to dissuade her from accompanying her husband to 
Southampton as she had intended. It would only make 
them both '' feel bad," said her friend, and serve no useful 
purpose. So Charlie accompanied him instead, and after an 
affectionate though not painful parting with his wife, Mr. 
Prince " went away cheerful " — at any rate, looking cheer- 
ful. 

But he was worn out with anxiety and work, and the train 
was no sooner in motion than he leaned back in his corner 
and slept ; dreaming of Jack, who since the interview with 
Lillywhite, had been much in Mr. Prince's mind. Despite 
the incredulity which he had avowed, and at the same time 
felt, touching the clerk's statement he could not rid himself 
of a suspicion that it might be true after all. It was con- 
ceivable that Jack had returned to Peele, disguised as a tramp, 
and that, his courage failing him at the last moment, he went 
away without making himself known. 

When Mr. Prince awoke he began to talk to Charlie on 
the subject which was uppermost in his thoughts. 

" Do you ever think of Jack ? " he asked him abruptly. 

Charlie, startled by the unexpected question, and feeling 
rather guilty, admitted that he did sometimes think about his 
eldest brother. 

" He behaved very ill ; nearly broke our hearts, in fact," 
said Mr. Prince, sadly, " but that is no reason why he should 
be entirely forgotten." 

And then he told the strange tale of the tramp whom 
Lillywhite, taking for Jack, had followed to Holmcroft, and 



1 1 8 THE PRINCES OE FEELE. 

his supposed recognition by Turnbull, the leather-seller, ask- 
ing Charlie, in conclusion, whether he had ever heard of a 
more palpable case of mistaken identity. 

This put Charlie in a dilemma. He had agreed with 
Edward to keep Jack's visit secret ; but not telling something 
was a very different matter from telling a lie, especially to 
his father, who had always treated him with loving confidence, 
and to whom he had never lied even when he was a small 
boy. 

" Did you ever know a more palpable case of mistaken 
identity .? " repeated Mr. Prince. 

Still Charlie hesitated. 

" Why don't you answer ? You surely don't think — — " 

" I cannot tell you a lie, father. The tramp Lillywhite saw 
was Jack. He came to Holmcroft." 

" Came to Holmcroft ! How ? Good heavens ; how did 
it happen, and why were we not told ? " 

" We thought it would only make you and mother unhappy 
and do no good, and if we had taken him into the house the 
servants might have suspected something. He was in such 
a state — just like a common beggar, so we took him in the 
harness-room. He slept there." 

" Well, perhaps you acted for the best," said ]\Ir. Prince 
gloomily. " It would have been bad if the thing had got 
wind in the town. All the same, I should have been glad to 
see the lad, and I take it very unkindly of Ned that he kept 
me in the dark when I spoke to him the other clay. It was 
not straightforward. Tell me all about it, Charlie — how he 
looked, where he had been, and what doing." 

Charlie told him ; also that Jack had seen them at prayers 
through the dining-room window ; also of his vow that he would 
never touch drink again, or rest satisfied until he had repaid 
his father every penny that his defalcations had cost him. 

" Jack makes vows with as much facility as he breaks them," 
said Mr. Prince bitterly, " When a man takes to drink he 
is generally past praying for. God ! What a wasted life." 

" I don't think he was a confirmed drunkard," put in Charlie 
eagerly. " When he wrote to Ned acknowledging receipt of 
the money he said that since leaving Peele he had tasted 
nothing stronger than water, and never would. I believe Jack 
will be as good as his word this time, father." 

" You are more sanguine than I am. If you only knew " 



THE PRIiXCES OF PEELE. 



119 



Here Mr. Prince paused. He had been on the point of 
letting out the secret. 

" Yes, father," said Charlie. 

" If you only knew how much your mother and I have 
suffered because of him you would understand our feelings. 
But enough about Jack. Let us talk about yourself. You 
will stick to the shop while I am away and give Ned all the 
help you can." 

" Of course I will, father, I give you my word." 

" I know you don't take kindly to the law, and I am sorry 
we did not let you go into the army ; and still more so that 
we did not let Jack go into the navy. But your mother 
thought differently and she had her way. However, use is 
second nature, and I have no doubt you will end in liking 
the profession, as I did myself. And now I am going to 
give you a word of advice — perhaps the last I ever shall give 
you." 

" You are surely not growing nervous, father, or having 
presentiments, or anything of that sort," interrupted Charlie 
with a smile. " Everybody says that the risk of a voyage 
to Trinidad is well nigh infinitesimal." 

" I was not thinking of the risk — merely of the uncertainty 
of life in general. Whenever a man goes away for three or 
four months there is always a possibility that he may never 
come back." 

"And the advice?" 

" Is this. It may happen to you in life to have to choose 
between following the dictates of your conscience and your 
judgment — acting, let us say, as if left to yourself it would 
be your duty to act — and pleasing somebody else, somebody, 
it may be, whom you are desirous to please and would make 
almost any sacrifices to serve, one who will put great pressure 
on you. In that case, dear boy, do the right thing, and, if 
you have any doubt, give conscience the benefit of it. It may 
be hard at the time, but you will be glad afterwards, and you 
will have nothing to reproach yourself with, and right can 
never be wrong, nor wrong right." 

All this was uttered so earnestly, and with so much feeling, 
that if the speaker had been anybody but his own father 
Charlie might have surmised that he spoke from bitter 
experience, and in time past had sinned grievously against the 
light. He thanked him for his advice, and said that if occa- 



I20 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

sion should arise he would do his best to follow it ; and then 
the subject dropped. 

The arrival at Southampton, the trip from the shore to the 
ship, which lay at her moorings off Netley, the bustle and 
excitement on board raised Mr. Prince's drooping spirits. 
The day was beautifully fine, and it seemed certain that the 
voyage would, at any rate, begin well. Charlie went below, 
inspected his father's stateroom, and helped him to arrange 
his things. 

Then they turned into the saloon and drank success to the 
voyage in sparkling moselle. 

" I wish I were going with you, father," said Charlie. " I 
should like to goto the West Indies immensely. I have seen 
next to nothing of the world outside Peele." 

" I wish you were, lad," returned Mr. Prince, heartily, " but 
I fear you will have to stay at home this time ; and Peele is 
not half a bad place. You might go further and fare worse. 
Be sure, now, to tell mother I shall write from St. Thomas's, 
and by every mail afterwards ; and let you know when I shall 
return — and, if you like, you and she may meet me here. 
They say the Royal Mail steamers arrive almost as punctually 
as they depart ; so you may know almost to a day when to 
expect me." 

Charlie remained on board to the last moment, and waited 
alongside until the Otrauto cast loose from her moorings ; and 
as the great paddles turned round, the father from the taffrail 
of the steamer, the son from the bows of his boat waved to 
each other a last farewell, little doubting that in a few months 
they should meet again, and foreboding naught of the 
momentous consequences which Mr. Prince's voyage would 
entail on him and his. 

As it was too late to get back to Peele the same night 
Charlie slept in London, and resumed his journey on the 
following morning. 

He was in good time at the station and entered a compart- 
ment whose only other occupant was a traveller so deeply 
absorbed in a newspaper that he did not seem to notice 
Charlie's arrival. 

" Tickets, please, gentlemen," said a guard, opening the ■ 
door. " Where for .? Both for Peele. All right ! " 

Charlie glanced at his companion, who in order to get his 
ticket had laid down his newspaper. The first glance was 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 12 1 

followed by a second and a third, for the stranger was a man 
worth looking at. Charlie guessed him to be twenty-five years 
old, and six feet high. His shoulders were broad, his limbs 
long and muscular ; he had bright humorous eyes, which, 
together with his chestnut hair, fresh color, smooth skin, and 
beardless face, gave him, considering his proportions, a sin- 
gularly youthful appearance. In dress this gentleman was 
almost a dandy. His clothes, gloves and boots fitted to per- 
fection, and his shirt front was lustrous with diamond studs. 

" We are bound for the same port, it seems," he said, as 
the train moved out of the station, " and as we are likely to 
have this box to ourselves all the way, we may as well make 
ourselves comfortable. You smoke, of course ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Let us smoke, then." 

Whereupon each produced a cigar case. 

" Allow me to offer you one of mine," said the stranger, 
whose manner was easy and self-possessed. " They are 
superb. Part of a lot of regalias I bought myself in Cuba 
and have smuggled through half-a-dozen Custom-houses. I 
enjoy a little smuggling. It comes as a pleasant relief after 
the tedium of a voyage ; a little excitement, you know." 

Charlie accepted the offer, and had no reason to regret his 
choice. It was the finest cigar he had ever smoked. 

" You have been to the West Indies, then. I have just 
been seeing a relative off to Trinidad," he said. 

" I have been there, too. A pleasant enough place for a 
short stay, and gloriously picturesque. I don't think I should 
like to stay there for the term of my natural life, however. 
I'm one of your rolling stones." 

" Not with the proverbial result, though, if I may judge by 
your appearance." 

" Well, I think I have gathered a little moss in more senses 
than one (glancing complacently at his brawny arms and 
glittering studs). Six years ago I was nothing but skin and 
bone, and as poor as a church mouse. And now I am going 
to ask a question which I hope you will not deem impertinent. 
Do you live at Peele ? " 

" I live in the neighborhood, and most of my days are 
spent in the town." 

" Then you will know a place called All Hallows." 

"Very well." 



122 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" And the people who live there — Mrs. Susan Lincoln and 
her daughter Olive." 

" They are dear friends of ours." 

" In that case we may as well make friends. Mrs. Lincoln 
is my cousin, and Paul Coniston is my name." 

" And America your nation .-' " 

" You might have made a worse guess, Mr. Prince, thank 
you. Don't I look like an American ? " 

" My experience of Americans is limited ; but if I may 
hazard an opinion I should say decidedly not." 

" I see. Your idea of an American is a lantern-jawed lamp- 
post, with high cheek bones, a sallow skin, and a nasal 
twang." 

" Not quite so bad as that," returned Charlie with a laugh. 

" But something like .'' " 

" Well, yes, something." 

" And yet, unless you have been in the States, I'll be bound 
to say that you have not met a score of live Americans in 
your life." 

" If you mean men, I have not met more than three or four, 
yourself included." 

" I thought so. You should not make old women's deduc- 
tions, young man." 

" Young man, indeed," quoth Charlie, firing up, "I am not 
much younger than you are." 

" In that case you are nearly thirty." 

" You surely don't mean " 

" I mean that I am in my thirty-first year. You think I 
look younger. Well, I daresay I do, and I can tell you the 
reason why. When I was seventeen I ran away from college, 
and volunteered for the Mexican war. After that I went 
overland to California, and for ten years I have lived out 
West, in one of the finest climates in the world, mostly in the 
saddle, my drink water — when I could get nothing stronger — 
my food beef, without vegetables. If I had stopped in Bos- 
ton, run a store, and chewed tobacco, I daresay I should have 
borne a faint resemblance to the Yankee of your imagination." 

" You have been a soldier, then ; you have seen active 
service," said Charlie, with sparkling eyes. "What was 
your rank ? " 

" Full private ; then sergeant. Afterwards when we were 
fighting the Apaches the boys made me captain." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 123 

" In the Mexican war ! Fighting Indians ! You have been 
fortunate." 

" I thought so at the end of it all, when I found myself 
alive, and with my hair on my head," said Coniston dryly. 
" And now I should like to ask you a question or two. One 
good turn deserves another, you know. The Lincolns, are 
they well ? " 

" Quite." 

" I was sorry to hear of Lincoln's death. Anyhow, he 
made his pile and left his wife and daughter in easy circum- 
stances. When a man does that he may be forgiven for 
dying, and those he leaves behind have no excuse for being 
inconsolable. And Olive .^ The last time I saw her she was 
as pretty as a peach. How is she now ? Has she fulfilled 
the promise of her childhood ? " 

" Quite, I should say. You will have to go a long way 
before you find so charming a girl as Olive Lincoln." 

" Has she a sweetheart ? " 

This was a poser, but necessity is the mother of invention, 
and though Charlie colored up and felt rather warm he got 
out of the difficulty better than might have been expected. 

" Has she a sweetheart ? " he repeated, with a surprised 
look, as if the question had startled him by its exceeding 
novelty. " I have not heard so, and as she is only just out 
of mourning for her father I don't think it's likely." 

" Well, she ought to have ; and I'll see if I cannot find her 
one before I go back." 

" Confound the fellow, what does he mean ? " thought 
Charlie. 

" Why, if she were out West," continued Mr. Coniston, 
"if she were out West she would have been the deaths of 
two or three tall fellows by this time. A few years ago, when 
I was on the Rio Colorado with an outfit, a Mexican niun^ 
with a nut-brown skin and big black eyes, — as beautiful as 
Cleopatra, she was, — used to come over the river in a dugout, 
singing and playing the banjo, and with her coquettish ways 
and her Spanish love-songs she just drove the boys wild ; and 
though I warned them to give her a wide berth, for those 
Greasers are as treacherous as panthers and as jealous as 
Turks (they will greet you, smiling, with one hand, and knife 
you with the other), they must go one night to a fandango 
where they knew she was to be present. \\'ell, I heard next 



124 '^HP- PR^^^CES OF PEELE. 

morning there had been trouble, and when I went to the 
casino I found four of them stretched out like sardines in a 
box." 

" And what became of the young lady ? " 

" Never saw her again. I expect the caballero spirited her 
away — perhaps cut her throat. Quien sabe ? It is dangerous 
work courting a Mexican 7ii/ia, I can tell you. There is only 
one way. You must have your bowie handy and your six- 
shooter loaded ; and if a Greaser sneaks up to you with his 
hat in his hand and a smile on his face shoot him down be- 
fore he has time to draw, and then get the drop on his amigo, 
for Greasers don't often attack unless they are two to one. 
This is a beautiful country we are travelling through. What 
is the name of that pretty village with the ivy-clad church.? " 

Charlie told him, and then Mr. Coniston inquired how 
soon they should arrive at Peele and how far it was from the 
" deepo " to All Hallows. Charlie, guessing that he meant 
station, answered "two miles." 

" That's a long way," observed Mr. Coniston, " I suppose 
there are teams to be got .'' " 

Charlie, who was being rapidly initiated into the niceties 
of the American language, said that there were always flies 
in waiting at Peele station. 

" Let us fly it, then. The only thing I object to is walk- 
ing. And now, Mr. Prince, I have a great favor to ask of 
you — I want you to go along to All Hallowsand introduce me." 

" Introduce you ! You don't require introducing. You 
have only to send in your card, you know." ■ 

" That would let the cat out of the bag, and I want to see 
whether they will recognize me. Now if you go along you 
can perhaps take me in as your friend, without giving my 
name." 

Charlie knew that Edward would expect him to call at the 
office before going home ; but the chance of seeing Olive and 
the reception of her surprising cousin being too good to be 
lost, he agreed to accompany the gentleman in question to 
All Hallows. 

So at Peele they exchanged the train for a cab. But the 
horse left a good deal to be desired. 

" Call this a fly ! " said Mr. Coniston, as they jogged on 
at the rate of five miles an hour. " Call this a fly t I call it 
a hearse, and slow at that." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



125 



However, they arrived in the end. 

" Are the hidies at home ? " asked Charlie of the servant 
who came to the door. 

" They are in the south garden, sir, under the mulberry 
tree. Shall I announce you and this gentleman ? " 

" No, Thomas, we will join them. This way, Mr. Coniston." 

It was a fine old-fashioned English garden, with shrubs 
cut into shapes, shady walks running at right angles to each 
other, like the streets of an American town, flower beds bril- 
liant with tulips and rose-trees ; and an emerald lawn, in the 
middle whereof grew a wide-spreading mulberry tree, laden 
with purple fruit. Under its branches were two rocking- 
chairs, in one of which sat Mrs. Lincoln knitting a stocking, 
and in the other Miss Lincoln reading a novel. 

Olive wore a soft creamy gown and a low-crowned sailor 
hat trimmed with blue, and at her breast were a red rosebud 
and a sprig of stephanotis. Her lover thought she was the 
loveliest thing in all that garden fair, and Mr. Coniston 
owned to himself that Charlie had in nowise exaggerated 
her charms. 

As the two men made towards the mulberry tree, mother 
and daughter looked up in surprise, and asked each other 
who was the stranger. 

" I have taken the liberty of bringing with me a friend, 
who is wishful to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Lincoln," 
said Charlie. 

Coniston took off his hat with a flourish, and, after bow- 
ing, raised his head and threw back his long hair, as if to in- 
vite inspection. 

" I am sure I shall be very glad, but " 

" Dear me ! What am I thinking about .'' I have not told 
you his name," interrupted Charlie. " Mr. Paul Coniston, 
from the wild West, Mrs. " 

" Paul Coniston, and I did not know him ! " exclaimed 
Mrs. Lincoln. " And no wonder ; he is quite another man. 
Llis own mother would not know him." 

" Oh, what a shameful take in. This is your doing, 
Charlie," said Olive reproachfully. 

" Not at all ; it is my doing entirely. I wanted to see 
whether you would recognize me," and with that Mr. Paul 
took Mrs. Lincoln's hand and kissed her dutifully, which 
done he put his arm round Olive's waist and kissed her with 



126 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

evident relish, a proceeding which Charlie admired so little 
that he made as if he would take his leave. 

" Oh, don't go yet," said Mrs. Lincoln. " Stay and have 
a cup of tea. We don't dine till seven, Paul, and as you 
must be hungry we will have tea here, under the mulberry 
tree." 

Paul made a slight grimace at the word " tea," but said 
*' With all my heart ; " and a table and chairs were brought, 
and the tea things set out amid a perfect storm of questions 
and answers. 

" So you have not a sweetheart, it seems, Olive ? " observed 
Coniston, after he had given an account of himself. 

" Who says so .-' " 

" Mr. Prince. I asked him as we came along." 

"Do you think if I had one I should tell him ? " returned 
Olive, glancing archly at her lover. 

"Olive, I am surprised," exclaimed Mrs. Lincoln, bridling. 
" I must really beg of you not to put such ideas into the 
child's head, Paul." 

" I don't think I have, Susan. You may depend they are 
there already by the light of nature." 

" I should hope not, Olive has been very carefully brought 
up, let me tell you. She is much too young It would be 
quite against her dear father's wish, as expressed in his will ; 
and I could not permit anything of the sort for at least three 
years to come." 

" And yet you were engaged at seventeen and married at 
nineteen ! But you were not an heiress. Snakes ! how 
circumstances alter cases. Come now, Susan, I'll lay you a 
thousand dollars to twenty that Olive has a sweetheart 
before the year is out." 

Mrs. Lincoln made a deprecatory gesture, and asked her 
daughter for another cup of tea. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 127 



CHAPTER XVI. 

Charlie's somersault. 

One day, during Charlie's absence, Edward called at the 
Beehive to bait his horse and refresh himself. The land- 
lady, a comely woman with a foolish tongue, thinking to do 
her guest pleasure, made a polite inquiry after Mr. Charles 
and his sweetheart. 

" Sweetheart ! What on earth do you mean, Mrs. Mari- 
gold .'' He has no sweetheart." 

" I ask your pardon, sir. I meant the young lady as he 
called with in April, after the hunting — Miss Lincoln, you 
know. They had tea in my back parlor, and walked in the 
garden and stopped nearly two hours, and he seemed so 
loving and she so kind that I felt sure they was courting. 
But maybe I was mistaken." 

" Of course you were mistaken. There is nothing of the 
sort, I assure you, Mrs. Marigold. Two hours, did you 
say?" 

" Yes, sir, I should say quite two hours." 

Mrs. Marigold meant well, but she could no more help 
exaggerating than she could help talking. Olive and Charlie 
had not stayed in her house more than an hour, but Edward, 
though not generally prone to accept uncorroborated state- 
ments, fully believed her, and he felt very sore. His worst 
fears were confirmed. Unless they had an understanding — 
unless, in fact, they were secretly engaged, they would never 
dawdle two hours over afternoon tea in the parlor of a coun- 
try inn. 

" He was loving and she was kind. " 

When Edward thought of the love-making that doubtless 
went on in that same parlor he gnashed his teeth. It was 
a positive scandal ; it must be put a stop to. But how? 

He was always brought up with the " how." To tell Mrs. 
Lincoln might do more harm than good. It would certainly 
injure him with Olive ; and as he had only hearsay to go 



128 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

upon, the story might be discredited, reference to Mrs. Mari- 
gold being in the circumstances quite out of the question. 

The best plan — if he could only hit upon one — would be 
to bring the facts to Mrs, Lincoln's knowledge without 
incurring the reproach of tale-bearing, or, better still, without 
appearing in the matter at all. 

The idea of sending her an anonymous letter was con 
ceived only to be rejected. He would either have to write it 
himself or get some other body to write it. In the latter 
event he would put himself in the other body's power ; in 
the former, his writing might be recognized, and then his 
second condition would be worse than his first. 

There seemed nothing for it but to persevere in his policy 
of watching and waiting. 

With this unsolved problem in his mind Edward was 
naturally not in the best of humors, and when Charlie 
turned up, shortly before dinner-time, his brother asked him 
somewhat sharply how he came to be so late. 

" I called at All Hallows," was the answer. 

" What on earth for? You are always calling at All Hal- 
lows, I think." 

" I don't call as often as you : and, as it happened, I had 
a very good reason for calling," returned Charlie with some 
heat. 

" How did you leave your father, Charlie ? Tell us all 
about him, and then you can tell us why you called at All 
Hallows," interposed Mrs. Prince. 

After giving an account of his father's departure and 
delivering his message, Charlie explained why he called at 
All Hallows. 

His description of Paul Coniston appeared to interest his 
mother and Edward greatly. 

" Strange that we never have heard of him before," 
observed Mrs. Prince. " From what you say he must be very 
good-looking." 

" He is one of the best-looking men I ever met, and very 
bright and amusing." 

" Is he a bachelor ? " asked Edward, thoughtfully. 

" I did not ask him, but I should say he is, decidedly. At 
any rate, he acts and talks like one," said Charlie, thinking 
rather ruefully of the more than cousinly affection with which 
Olive had greeted her stalwart cousin. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



129 



Edward smiled. The American might prove a useful foil 
to Charlie, perhaps set him and Olive at variance, and it 
would be strange if the complication thus arising did not 
turn to the elder brother's advantage. When certain people 
fall out honest folk get their own. 

After dinner, as they were smoking in the garden, Edward 
told Charlie about Lillywhite having seen and recognized 
Jack, and inquired whether his father had referred to the 
incident. 

Charlie said he had, and related all that had passed. 

" Well, that is what I call an infernal shame," exclaimed 
Edward, " after I had denied it, too. It is a positive breach of 
our understanding. Didn't we agree that they should be 
kept in the dark?" 

" We agreed not to tell them. But father asked me point- 
blank, and I could not tell him a lie." 

"You might have evaded the question, as I did." 

" He put it in such a way that I could not evade it — hon- 
estly." 

" You mean that I was not honest." 

" I know nothing about that. I did not hear what passed 
between you. I only speak for myself." 

" Anyhow, you did not behave honestly to me." 

Charlie retorted, and there v/as a quarrel which left a sore 
feeling behind it, and the breach between the two brothers, 
instead of healing, widened almost daily. Edward, who was 
a good organizer, managed the office well. He drew the 
bonds of discipline tighter, got more work out of the clerks, 
cut down expenses, and did other good things. But he was 
too arrogant and dictatorial, and rubbed people the wrong 
way, thereby provoking remonstrances from both Lillywhite 
and Charlie ; and the relations between the brothers grew at 
last so strained that, except before their mother and on busi- 
ness, they seldom spoke to each other. 

Meanwhile, Paul Coniston was proving a great social suc- 
cess. Though he went occasionally to London, he made 
All Hallows his headquarters, and spent the greater part of 
his time there. Mrs. Lincoln introduced him to all her 
friends ; and Olive was evidently proud of him as a typical 
American, racy of the soil. In thews, sinews, manly presence, 
and good looks, Peele could not show his equal ; and though, 
as might be expected of a man who had passed a great part 

9 



130 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

of his life in fighting Indians, ranching cattle, and seeking 
gold, he lacked polish, his manner was frank and open, his 
talk fluent and picturesque. Being, moreover, supposed to be 
rich, he soon became highly popular, and the ladies of All 
Hallows and himself were always either making visits or 
receiving visitors, giving dinners, or dining out. 

As Paul one day remarked to Olive, he was having a high 
old time. 

These festivities, however, though he took part in most of 
them, did not greatly exhilarate Charlie Prince. In truth, he 
was just then tormented by two demons, envy and jealousy. 
Albeit only some nine years his senior, Paul Coniston had 
distinguished himself in war and made a fortune, and lived, 
and would live again, the wild free life of the far West. No 
wonder Olive was fond of him, and Lydia Spankaway quite 
"gone" on him. No wonder men crowded round him to 
hear his anecdotes and enjoy his jokes. What chance had 
a mere quill-driver with this hero and fire-eater ? It was not 
that Olive had given her sweetheart the cold shoulder. She 
still responded to the pressure of his hand, and when they 
could exchange a word unobserved was as kind as ever. But 
she was equally kind to Coniston, whose attentions were so 
marked and so well received that some people set them down 
as an engaged couple. There could be no doubt, thought 
Charlie, that he had lost her love — perhaps in spite of her- 
self — and as he did not care to have the name without the 
reality, he resolved — after enduring much agony of mind — to 
give her back her promise, and, on the first opportunity, tell 
her that if she preferred Paul Coniston he would not stand 
in the way. But this resolve rather aggravated than relieved 
his torments ; he fell into a condition of extreme despondency, 
alternating with fits of jealous rage, and presently arrived at 
the conclusion, usual in like circumstances, that life was a 
mistake, and he should never know happiness again. 

The desired opportunity came in the shape of a garden 
party, to which were invited most of Mrs. Lincoln's friends 
and acquaintances in the neighborhood of Peele, also several 
members of the Riversdale Hunt and their womenfolk. 

Charlie arrived at All Hallows rather late, and found Cap- 
tain Coniston (as it was the fashion to call him) the centre of 
an admiring throng, among whom were Lydia Spankaway and 
Olive. He was telling an anecdote which, judging by the 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 131 

laughter it provoked, was highly amusing. But, after nodding 
nonchalantly to Paul, and doffing his hat to the ladies, Char- 
lie passed on and joined Kate Conyers and Mary Spankaway 
in a game of croquet, lawn-tennis being not yet. 

The game finished, they strolled through the grounds, and, 
on the proposal of Miss Spankaway, who had the equine 
tastes common to her family, went to the paddock to look at 
the horses ; and there found Coniston, Olive, Edward Prince, 
and two or three others, who were come on the same errand. 
Their talk was naturally horsey, and the captain was express- 
ing his regret that he should be obliged to leave England 
before the hunting season began. 

" I don't think it can beat buffalo-hunting," he said, " but 
I have heard so much about the jumping prowess of your 
English horses that I should like to see how they do it." 

" What sort of jumping have you on the prairies .'' " asked 
Teddy Spankaway. 

" Buck jumping, and plenty of it, as high as you like to go. 
But no gates and ditches or anything of that sort. You may 
ride hundreds of miles and meet no obstacle bigger than a 
match box. How would you get over that, now ? " 

" That " was a fence enclosing the paddock — a bank topped 
with a rail and bounded by a ditch, a fair, though rather for- 
midable, jump, when hounds were running, but not to be 
undertaken with a light heart in cold blood. 

" We should jump it," said Charlie quietly. 

*' You would need a big horse." 

" Not at all. Rataplan is hardly fifteen hands, and he 
would do it easy enough." 

Coniston glanced significantly at the horse, which was graz- 
ing in the paddock, and then at the fence. 

" You doubt it ! " exclaimed Charlie, who was dying to 
eclipse the captain. " Well, I'll bet you a fiver I'll ride him 
over it bareback now — if Miss Lincoln will allow me." 

Olive hesitated, and then answered rather coldly : 

" Very well — if you promise neither to hurt Rataplan nor 
yourself. I think he can do it." 

" I am sure he can." 

And with that Charlie went towards the stables and called 
to a helper to bring a bridle. The bridle was brought, and 
the helper gave him a leg up. Charlie cantered Rataplan 
round the paddock to get his blood up ; then, leaning well 



132 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



back, and gripping tightly with bent knees, he put the horse 
at the fence. 

Rataplan went over at a bound, without touching ; where- 
upon everybody shouted, " Well done ! " 

" It was very well done indeed," said Coniston. " I see 
that Mr. Prince can ride." 

" Of course he can, and Rataplan can jump," added Olive, 
with a gratified smile. It pleased her to think that her lover 
and her horse had equally distinguished themselves. 

Meanwhile, Rataplan, being very fresh, and having a good 
deal of way on, was galloping across the next field ; and 
Charlie had to pull hard in order to stop him. 

" How will he get back?" asked Coniston. 

"By the gate, of course," said Teddy Spankaway ; "I'll 
run and open it." 

Charlie, however, had no such intention. Having turned 
Rataplan round he made straight for the fence, which this 
time was not a fair jump. The ditch being now on the tak- 
ing-off side and the field lower than the paddock, it was a 
far more difficult feat than before. 

" Don't try it, Prince. It is too much," shouted Teddy, 
while Olive and the other girls waved him back. 

Charlie, whose blood was up, gave no heed to their warn- 
ings. He rode on as straight as a bullet. Rataplan rose 
nobly at the obstacle, but hitting the rail with his fore-legs, 
turned a complete somersault, as he had done on a previous 
occasion, and landed in the paddock with his heels in the 
air, his rider, as it seemed, under him. 

The girls gave a terrified shriek, and the men rushed to 
the spot in dire dismay, but Charlie had fortunately fallen 
clear, and with admirable presence of mind rolled away as the 
horse turned over in the effort to rise. 

" This beats buck-jumping," said Coniston. " Many a 
man knows how to ride ; but it is not everybody who knows 
how to fall." 

Olive was very pale, but no paler than were Mary Spank- 
away and Kate Conyers. 

" I never saw anything more foolish. Didn't you see that 
it was an impossible jump ? " she said, severely. 

" Anyhow, I got over it," replied Charlie, who, though 
rather white, was smiling. " And I have kept my promise — 
neither of us is hurt — and won my bet." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



133 



" And nearly lost your life," put in Teddy Spankaway. " If 
you had fallen under instead of on one side you would have 
been crushed as flat as a pancake." 

" And we should have got the insurance money and rein- 
stated the trust fund, and a troublesome rival would have 
been out of my way," thought Edward. 

The idea came unbidden, and Edward was fully conscious 
of its wickedness ; but once conceived it was not easily dis- 
missed : it recurred to him again and again ; even in the 
night watches it would thrust itself into his thoughts : 

" If Charlie had fallen under instead of on one side we 
should have got the insurance money, and I should be sure 
of Olive ! " 



134 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XVII. 
"mv little hunter." 

" Come into the house and have a drink, Mr. Charles," 
said Coniston, kindly. " That fall must have shaken you." 

They returned to the garden, and presently the guests 
began to leave ; but Mrs. Lincoln invited all who would to 
stay for dinner, and have a dance in the cool of the evening. 

Among those who accepted the invitation was Charlie, 
and when the dancing began he danced with Olive. 

" I want to speak to you," he whispered. 

" And I want to speak to you. Go into the shrubbery 
behind the fish-pond. I will come to you as soon as I 
can." 

When he had conducted his sweetheart to her seat, Charlie 
slipped out of the room unobserved, and betook himself to 
the trysting place, a path winding between tall shrubs, and 
so overshadowed by trees that even on that fair summer 
evening it was almost as dark as a moonless midnight. 

Presently he heard a footfall on the gravel. 

" Hist ! Is that you .'' " he asked, as a shawled figure came 
noiselessly towards him. 

" Yes, and what we have to say must be said quickly, or 
we shall be missed. I thought you loved me, Charlie t " 

" I do love you. You know I love you — with all my heart 
— and yet " 

" Why are you so unkind, then ? " 

This took the wind out of Charlie's sails completely. He 
had meant to reproach her, and here she was imputing to 
him the very fault of which, in his thoughts, he accused her ; 
and it began to dawn on his mind that he had perhaps been 
making rather a fool of himself. 

" I, unkind to you ! " he stammered. " It is impossible. 
I never thought of such a thing. I even imagined " 

" What ? " 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



135 



"That you had ceased to love me." 

" Oh, Charlie, do you want to break my heart ? " she mur- 
mured, with a half sob, and made as if she would go away. 

What could he do but cry peccai'i, and protest that he was 
a brute, and kiss away her tears and entreat her forgiveness .-' 

Having brought him to this pass Olive laughed, and called 
him a foolish boy, and said that she really believed he had 
been jealous of her cousin Paul. 

" Weren't you now .'' " she asked. 

" Well, just a little. You seem so fond of him, and are 
nearly always with him." 

"Naturally. He is our guest and my cousin, and a very 
fine fellow, as you must admit. But my liking for him makes 
no difference in my love for you. Was it jealousy that made 
you take that mad leap to-day 1 The truth, now ! " 

" Yes, I think I must have been mad." 

" I am sure you were. Suppose you had been killed ! 
Oh, when I think of it I tremble all over." 

" Dear heart ! But you forgive me, don't you, darling ? " 

" Yes, on one condition." 

" What is it ? But never mind. I accept it, whatever it 
is." 

" That you don't do so any more, and have limitless con- 
fidence in me, and keep nothing back from me that is in your 
mind ; and put the best, not the worst, construction on any- 
thing I may do. Be sure I have good reasons, and if I give 
you all my love you must give me all your confidence." 

" I agree." 

" Fully ? " 

" Fully." 

" And now I have something to tell you. We are going 
to Switzerland next week." 

" You and your mother ? " 

" Yes, also Paul. He asked us to go with him, and, as the 
long vacation is close at hand, and the law courts will be 
closed, mother can be spared two or three months. After- 
wards, Paul will return to America, sailing from Havre, I 
think." 

" And you will be two or three months away ? " 

" Perhaps." 

" That will be dreadful." 

" Yes ; it will be rather trying. But, in consideration of 



136 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

your penitence, and your promise not to be jealous and un- 
kind any more, I shall write to you." 

" Dear Olive ! " 

" Shall I address my letters — I don't think it will be wise 
to write more than one or two — to Holmcroft or the office ? " 

" The office. . Never a letter comes to me at home that 
my mother does not ask whom it is from. How shall I 
address mine to you ? " 

" I am not sure that it would be prudent to address any. 
I will tell you when I write. And now you must let me go. 
No, I cannot stop longer, I have the guests to look after, you 
know. Mother will be wondering what has become of me." 

As they turned out of the shrubbery whom should they 
meet but Paul Coniston ! 

" Hello ! " he exclaimed. " You two here ! But never 
mind ; I won't tell. I guessed as much some time ago — saw 
it in this gentleman's face when I mentioned your name to 
him in the cars, Olive. However, your secret is quite safe 
with me." 

" I am sure it is, Paul. You are as good as gold. But I 
must really run away. Tell him about Myra, Paul." 

" Who is Myra t " asked Charlie, as Olive hurried towards 
the house. 

" A little girl at Boston I am going to marry and take out 
West. That is my secret. At any rate it was before I told 
Olive," 

" I congratulate you heartily," said Charlie, feeling now 
quite sure that he had made a fool of himself. 

" Thank you. Perhaps you will be coming to America 
one of these days." 

Charlie shook his head. 

" You are sure to do if all goes on right — and then I hope 
we shall meet again, and you will afford me an opportunity of 
introducing you to the young woman in question. Frankly, 
Mr. Prince, I like you, and I think Olive has made an excel- 
lent choice. The way you turned a somersault over that 
fence excited my unbounded admiration. Why aren't you a 
cowboy ? Yes, when you come to the States you must seek 
me out and we will have a high old time. Meanwhile, I 
shall be glad to do anything for you in my power. Can I 
serve you in any way ? " 

" You are very kind. Well, if you should chance to meet 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 137 

— it is not likely, I know, but it is possible — if you should 
chance to meet a man of the name of Mark Darnley, you 
might give him a message from me." 

" Where is he ? " 

" All I can tell you is that he landed in New York last 
November and went West." 

" That is very vague, Mr. Prince. The chances are about 
ten millions to one against my coming across this gentleman 
before I die — afterwards, perhaps." 

" The impossible happens sometimes." 

" What is he like .? " 

Charlie described Jack. 

" What shall I say to Mr. Darnley if the impossible does 
happen ? " 

" Say that you have been to Peele and seen us all, and give 
him my love." 

" Good ! I will make a note of it ; and if I do meet him 
you may be sure I shall not forget to deliver your message." 

When the two men rejoined the other guests in the house 
they found that music had been substituted for dancing, and 
at Olive's request her cousin produced his banjo and, to his 
own accompaniment, sang a Spanish love-song, which, though 
nobody understood it, appeared to give general satisfaction. 
Then Charlie, also at Olive's request, followed with a hunting- 
song known as " My Little Hunter," which ran as follows : — 

My Little Hunter. 

I've as nice a little hunter as e'er you'd wish to see, 
So high she lifts her fore-foot, so proudly bends her knee ; 
Her fiery head and nostrils red assert her noble blood ; 
Deep is her girth, and hocks she has that send her through the mud. — 
My gallant little hunter, my dashing little bay. 

Now see her at the covert side, responsive to my hand. 
While other horses fret and fume how quietly she'll stand ; 
But when hounds proclaim a find, and " forward " is the cry, 
She'll fling the dirt behind her, and o'er the pastures fly, — 
My gallant little hunter, my dashing little bay. 

The scent is good, the pace is fast, the crowd's soon left behind, 
A minute's check, a view hallo, and onward like the wind ; 
At rotten bank and yawning ditch the funkers turn away ; 
" The best thing," quoth the master, " we've had this many a day," — 
,Oh my noble little hunter, my dashing little bay. 



138 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Forty minutes now we've run, and the best begin to flag, 
Yet Kitty still goes free and fast, the sturdy little nag : 
The ground is deep, the jumping big, yet still I keep my place 
Among the foremost riders in this right glorious chase. — 
My noble little hunter, my dashing little bay. 

There was more of the same sort, but the foregoing is 
probably quite enough for the reader, although the Spank- 
aways and some others were loud in their plaudits, and 
demanded an encore. The song was popularly ascribed to 
Charlie's own muse, but, as a matter of fact, it was an old 
hunting song re-touched and partly re-written by Olive and 
himself, and, as they thought, greatly improved. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 139 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

LILLYWHITE SMELLS A RAT. 

During Mr. Prince's absence, Edward, as acting head of 
the firm, took possession of his father's room, Charlie mean- 
while occupying the room which had been his brother's. 
Lillywhite was always first at the office, generally entering 
with the postman, from whom he took the letters. After 
carefully scanning the outsides of them, and forming shrewd 
guesses as to the nature of their contents, he would put the 
firm's letters and Edward's on the latter's desk and Charlie's 
on his desk. 

One morning, about a fortnight after the garden party, the 
managing clerk came across a letter with a foreign stamp 
and the Geneva postmark, addressed to Charles Prince, Esq. 

" Geneva — Switzerland — the Lincolns are in Switzerland 
— a woman's handwriting — not Mrs. Lincoln's — I know it 
as well as my own — et-go it must be Miss Lincoln's," muttered 
Lillywhite. " I smell a rat, I smell a rat. I have thought 
for some time that Edward was sweet in that quarter ; but if 
Charlie is the favored swain, so much the better. If he 
wasn't, would she write him a long letter like this ? " (feel- 
ing it with his finger and thumb, and holding it to the light). 
" Not she, not she. And a very sensible young woman I 
call her to prefer Charlie to his conceited jackanapes of a 
brother. This is a new development. I must watch it. 
And now I'll put the letters on their desks. They will be 
here presently." 

A few minutes later Edward arrived. 

" My brother won't be here for an hour or two," he said, 
after greeting Lillywhite. " There was a fire at Longmire's 
last night, and he has ridden that way to ascertain the extent 
of the damage. (The Princes were agents to the Rhada- 
manthus Fire Insurance Company.) 

Shortly afterwards Edward had occasion to consult a law 



I40 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



book, which formed part of the collection in his old room, 
and hither for that purpose he went, going through the general 
ofhce. As he passed Charlie's desk he noticed the letter 
which had aroused Lillywhite's curiosity. 

" A foreign letter for Charlie ! Whom can it be from ? " 
he thought, taking it up. " Olive, by Jove." 

There could be no doubt about it. He knew that the 
Lincolns were going to Geneva, and he recognized the hand- 
writing. Here was a chance of ascertaining the nature of 
Charlie's relations with Olive not to be lost, all the more so 
as he had almost persuaded himself (the wish being father 
to the thought) that Olive's flirtation with Coniston indicated 
a growing indifference to Charlie. 

So, slipping the letter into his pocket, he returned to his 
own room. 

Having gentlemanly instincts and a regard for the pro- 
prieties, Edward Prince was fully alive to the meanness and 
treachery of the deed which he contemplated. But curiosity 
and jealousy were too much for his scruples. After a 
moment's hesitation he wetted a sheet of thick blotting-paper, 
placed it on the back of the letter; then, putting both 
between two sheets of oiled paper, screwed them up in the 
letter copying press. 

In five minutes the adhesive matter of the envelope was 
so softened that the letter could be opened without diffi- 
culty. 

Edward opened it, and took out and read the letter. It 
began " My dear Charlie," and as touching the greater part 
of it might have been written by a sister to a brother, or by 
one friend to another. Olive gave a lively description of 
their journey, of an excursion they had made to the Col de- 
la Faucille, of a never-to-be-forgotten " Tour of the Lake," 
and of the sayings and doings of Cousin Paul, who seemed 
to have been very amusing. The significance of the letter 
and, for Edward, its sting, lay in its conclusion. It ran 
thus : — 

" And now that you have nobody to be jealous of, I hope 
you have ceased to worry, you foolish boy. As you know 
that I love you dearly, and shall never love anybody else, I 
will protest no more, except that I am yours, and yours only, 
Olive." 

Then there came a P.S. suggesting that Charlie should 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 141 

write to her at the Schweizerhof, Lucerne, enclosing his 
letter in an envelope addressed to Cousin Paul. 

" Confound them both," said Edward, dashing the letter 
on the table. " It's as I suspected at first ; they are secretly 
engaged, and that cursed American cow catcher is a party to 
the fraud. That flirtation was a piece of make-believe, and 
I actually let it take me in. What shall I do 1 Suppress 
the letter, and show it to Mrs. Lincoln when she comes 
home ? " 

But when Edward cooled down a little he saw that this, 
besides being highly dangerous, would do him no good. It 
was not every day that a foreign letter came to the office. 
Lillywhite had doubtless observed Olive's missive and might 
mention it to Charlie. Neither could he bring it to Mrs. Lin- 
coln's knowledge without admitting that he had committed a 
shabby action and broken the law. So, reluctantly ■o^VL^faute 
de mieux, he restored the letter to the envelope, and return- 
ing to Charlie's room with the law book under his arm, put 
book and letter where he had found them. 

As it happened, however, Lillywhite had been there a few 
minutes previously, to place on the table a document which 
concerned Charlie's department of the business. Naturally 
he missed the foreign letter, and as naturally concluded that 
Edward had taken it. 

" Gone, by George ! " he mentally exclaimed. " What's 
his game, I wonder ? Does he mean to keep it, or merely to 
look inside ? And what can be his motive — curiosity, or 
something else ? " 

The managing clerk returned to his desk, and while he still 
pondered these questions Edward went into Charlie's room a 
second time. So, after a short interval, did Lillywhite. 

The letter was in its place again. 

Lillywhite examined it deliberately and with deep interest, 
and his practiced eye, sharpened by suspicion, told him that 
it had been tampered with. The envelope was damp, one of 
the edges slightly torn, and it appeared to have been touched 
up with fresh gum. 

" A true bill," he soliloquized. " Edward has read it. He 
is mad that Miss Lincoln has written to Charlie instead of to 
him, and Avanted to know what she said. It almost seems as 
if these brothers were rivals. Well, I'm for Charlie. He is 
rather free and easy sometimes, but he has always treated me 



142 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

with becoming respect, and I'll do my best to forward his 
views, if only to spite the other." 

At eleven o'clock Charlie came in, fresh from his ride, 
his hat slightly on one side, himself looking happy and 
careless. 

" Good-morning, Mr, Lillywhite," he said pleasantly. " You 
have heard of Longmire's fire, I suppose. It does not amount 
to much. Fifty pounds will cover the entire damage. I 
don't think the Rhadamanthus will consider it necessary to 
send a surveyor. They will accept my report. Any letters 
this morning ? " 

" You will find several on your desk,one of them a foreigner, 
I think. Also " 

But Charlie did not stay to hear more. He whipped into 
his room, shut the door, pounced on the foreigner, slit open 
the envelope with his desk knife, and devoured Olive's letter, 
dwelling ecstatically on the concluding portion. He was read- 
ing it a second time when there came a knock at the door, 
followed by Lillywhite. 

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the clerk, "but I was just 
about to observe, when you left me, I was just about to ob- 
serve, that I had put the draft brief, /// re Powderley, on 
your desk." 

"All right, I'll look at it," returned Charlie, rather impa- 
tiently. 

"Your foreigner is on the floor. Oh, it is only the en- 
velope (picking it up). I hope you have good news of Mrs. 
Lincoln, sir." 

" Mrs. Lincoln t " 

" Yes, I see that the envelope bears the Geneva post-mark, 
and as the Lincolns are in Switzerland I thought you had 
perhaps news of them." 

In his mind Charlie characterized this observation as " a 
piece of cheek," but considering the circumstances and Lilly- 
white's age and position, he answered, with a show of indif- 
ference, that Mrs. Lincoln was quite well. 

" And the young lady ? " 

" Is also quite well," answered Charlie, reddening. 

" I am glad to hear it. Miss Lincoln is a very nice young 
lady — to my thinking, one of the nicest in these parts." 

Here Lillywhite paused and looked keenly at Charlie, but 
as the latter made no sign he went on : " Would you mind 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 143 

letting me have the stamp, sir ? I have a nephew who 
collects them, and this would please the little chap im- 
mensely." 

" Certainly ; let him have it. I'll go through this draft at 
once and make any emendations that may occur to me, and 
then you can have a fair copy made. I suppose nobody has 
been in my room besides yourself this morning .-' " 

" Only your brother, for a volume of ' Copeland's Digest,' 
I think, which he afterwards brought back." 

" Yes, most of his law books are here. An uncommonly 
useful book, 'Copeland's Digest.' I say, Lillywhite, if there 
is another foreign letter for me, don't put it on my desk ; keep 
it till I come." 

"All right, sir, I'll not forget. I thank you for the stamp, 
Mr. Charles," and with that the managing clerk pocketed 
the envelope and left the room. 

" He need not have taken the envelope for the sake of the 
stamp," thought the young fellow discontentedly, "but never 
mind, it is only the shadow, here is the substance (looking 
fondly at the letter). I wonder whether Old Sly Boots sus- 
pects anything. He looked very knowing when he asked 
after Miss Lincoln. However, that would be better than for 
Ned to spot one of Olive's letters. I wonder whether he saw 
this ? I don't think so. He only came in for a book. But he 
might another time. He won't have the chance, though. Lilly- 
white will take care of the next : and he isn't a man who talks 
except to ask questions .... Dear Olive! I must read her 
letter once more, and then for a grind at this infernal 
brief." 

Meanwhile "Old Sly Boots" was mending his pens (he 
always wrote with a quill) and rejoicing hugely over his 
morning's work. He had scored again — added to his store 
of secrets, and, as he believed, got a hold over both the 
brothers. Beyond a doubt Charlie was carrying on an ama- 
tory correspondence with Miss Lincoln. He had received 
one letter and expected others, which he did not want any- 
body to see, especially Edward. If he only knew that Edward 
had read his precious missive before he read it himself ! A 
word from him (Lillywhite) would set the brothers by the ears, 
and he wagged his portentous nose in delight as he thought 
of the clever way in which he had secured possession of the 
compromising envelope. It might prove a valuable piece of 



144 ^-^^ PRINCES OF PEELE. 

evidence. The mere sight of it would be enough to show 
Edward that his treachery had not passed unobserved. 

But " Old Sly Boots " knew how to bide his time. Whether 
and in what fashion he should utilize his newly-acquired 
knowledge depended on circumstances. He hoarded secrets 
as misers hoard money, for the mere pleasure of possession, 
and seldom used them — save either as a means of capturing 
others, or, on rare occasions, to show his power. 

Charlie, of course, answered his sweetheart's letter, and the 
correspondence went on until Captain Coniston left Europe 
for America, and the ladies betook themselves to the Italian 
lakes, when Olive, prescient and thoughtful as ever, deemed 
it expedient to put an interdict on her lover's letters ; never- 
theless, she continued to write to him, and her missives, 
thanks to Lillywhite's watchfulness, were received without 
being seen by anybody else. 

And so the summer days wore away, and the younger 
Prince, as happy as they were long, dreamed of a still brighter 
future; while Ned, nursing his wrath in silence, indulged in 
thoughts inimical to his brother's peace, even at times to the 
extent of hoping that Charlie would break his neck next 
hunting season. 

Mrs. Prince, happily unsuspicious of her sons' rivalry, 
was gladdened every fortnight by a letter from her husband. 
Mr. Prince found the business which took him to Trinidad 
more complicated than he had been led to expect, and his 
stay there was likely to be longer than he had originally an- 
ticipated. For the rest, however, all was well with him. He 
spoke in the highest terms of the beauty of the island and 
the hospitality of its inhabitants. His health left nothing to 
be desired, and the change and freedom from small worries 
(which meant great anxieties) were doing him " a power of 
good." He still hoped to be back in time for the October 
cub-hunting, and in the course of a mail or two would be able 
to say by which packet he should return. 

The letter containing this information was received early 
in September, and greatly rejoiced Mrs. Prince. 

" We shall have your father back in a month," she said to 
her sons. 

" Hardly. If he lets us know by the next mail but one that 
he is leaving by the following packet, he won't be here for 
six weeks or so. For my own part, I do not expect him until 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 1 45 

about the middle of October, which will be just within the 
limit allowed by the insurance company," returned Edward, 
who suspected that his father was making the most of his 
holiday and could, if he had liked, have got through his 
business in a month. 

" You always were a kill-joy ; I think you make it a rule 
never to agree with anybody," said his mother, rather resent- 
fully. 

" If you mean that I neither cherish illusions nor shape 
my opinions according to my desires, you are right. A lawyer 
has no business to cherish illusions." 

" Well, perhaps you are right, dear. All the same, I hope 
I am not cherishing an illusion in believing that j^our father's 
next letter will fix the day of his return, and that we shall 
have him with us by the end of the month." 

Edward shook his head, and smiled dubiously, and Mrs. 
Prince, perceiving that he did not agree with her, let the 
subject drop. 

The result justified his scepticism, albeit in a way which 
he little anticipated. The following mail brought no letter 
whatever, to his mother's great disappointment. 

" What can have happened } " she said. " He has never 
missed writing before." 

" Perhaps he has not missed writing, merely missed the 
mail. That is a possible chance, and I rather wonder it has 
not happened before," quietly observed Edward, who, when 
the ordinary seemed to afford an adequate explanation for 
aught obscure, never admitted into his calculations the 
extraordinary. 

" I wish I could think so. But how do you know that he 
was not too ill to write ? " 

" I don't, any more than you know that he was. But I 
think that if he had been ill, at any rate seriously ill, we 
should have heard. The agents would have informed us. 
To my mind the wonder is that my father's letters have come 
so regularly — so slight a cause may make a man to miss a 
dispatch — the carelessness of a clerk, the stupidity of a serv- 
ant; and from Trinidad there are only two dispatches a 
month, remember; miss a mail and you lose a fortnight." 

" That is true — yet, I cannot help thinking that if all had 
been well with your father we should have had a letter from 

10 



146 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

him as usual ; and I shall be very anxious until the next 
mail comes in." 

Charlie, who was present, held his peace. He did not 
want to discourage his mother, and his opinion, if he had ex- 
pressed it, would have confijmed her in her fears. For, 
Edward's arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, he had 
an uneasy feeling that all was not well with their father. 



THE FKIXCES OF PEELE, 



147 



CHAPTER XIX. 

" EVIL TIDINGS." 

The morning-room at Holmcroft was neither too large to 
be cozy nor so small as to be cramped. The furniture was 
substantial without looking heavy ; two French windows 
opened into a beautiful bit of garden, and the oil paintmgs 
on the walls, the flowers on the table, and a merry tire burn- 
ing in the grate gave it a bright, homelike aspect, which 
made it one of the pleasantest rooms — in the opinion of Mr. 
Prince, whose portrait surveyed the scene, the very pleas- 
antest in the house. 

Here, on a certain morning in the latter half of Septem- 
ber, the members of his family, whom he had left at home, 
are, having breakfast. Edward is the only one who appears 
to be eating with appetite. His manner is as quiet, his face 
as impassive, as usual. But Mrs. Prince's face is gray and 
worn, and there are dark circles round her eyes, as if she 
has passed a sleepless night. So tremulous is her hand that 
she can scarcely pour out the tea, and when her sons offer 
her anything she silently refuses. Charles makes a show of 
eating, but after every mouthful pauses and looks nervously 
towards the door. 

The letters nearly always come while they are at break- 
fast ; the West India mail is due, and the shipping intelli- 
gence of the Times reports that the Ta7nar arrived at South- 
ampton early on the previous day. A few minutes will 
decide whether Edward is justified in his confidence or his 
mother in her fears. 

Presently there is a knock at the door, and a servant en- 
ters with a tray, on which are letters and a newspaper or 
two. He passes the lady of the house and offers the tray to 
her elder son. 

" It there nothing for me ? " she demands in a tone of 
eager anguish. 

" No, madam, all for Mr. Edward." 



148 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Mrs. Prince falls back in her chair with something like a 
groan, and then, recovering herself and leaning forward, 
inquires whether the servant has not made a mistake. 

"There must be news from father by this mail," she says. 
" One of those letters " 

" Has the Port-of-Spain post-mark. But the address is 
not in his handwriting. However, if the letter is not from 
him it will tell us something about him." 

Edward opens the letter smiling, but he no sooner begins 
to read it than his countenance changes ominously. 

" What is it ? " cries Mrs. Prince. " There is something 
wrong, I can see it in your face." 

" Father is ill," he says in a faltering voice. 

" Give me the letter, let me see it." 

" Wait a minute, mother, till I have read it through. I — • 
I can scarcely make it out." 

" Give it me, I say," and leaning over she snatches the 
letter from his hand. 

'I'he first words on which the poor lady's eyes light are 
these : — 

" 7 deeply regret to infor7n you that your father is no 7nore. 
He died on the thirteenth instant from the effects of a snake 
biter 

" Dead ! Dead ! Leonard dead, and it was I who let him 
go," moans the stricken woman, and then sinks back in 
a swoon. 

The young men take her in their arms, lay her on the sofa, 
and ring for help. 

" Is it really true — is father " gasps Charlie, who feels 

as if he were playing a part in some frightful nightmare. 

" Too true. It is terrible. Read the letter." 

" The letter, though sympathetic, was brief. The writer 
had evidently been pressed for time. He told that Mr. 
Prince, while on a yachting expedition in Venezuelan waters, 
had been killed by the bite of a snake. A full account would 
be found in the newspapers, which the writer was sending 
by the present mail. The body had been buried in the Port- 
of-Spain cemetery. Further particulars, together with all the 
deceased's papers and certificates of his death and burial, 
would follow by the next opportunity. 

When Mrs. Prince regained consciousness her condition 
was so pitiable, and she talked so wildly, that the brothers 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



149 



did not think it would be right to leave her even for a short 
time. It was therefore agreed between them that Charlie 
should stay with her while Edward went to the office, calling 
on his way at the Rectory to ask Mrs. Manners (the Rector's 
wife) to come and keep their mother company. 

Charlie, although he strove bravely to keep up, was so un- 
done that he could scarcely speak, and in no condition to 
offer consolation to anybody else. Besides, how could words, 
mere words, mitigate the measureless sorrow which had come 
upon them ? The dear father whom he had so tenderly loved, 
who as long as he could remember, had been good and kind 
to him, his best friend and faithful companion and counsellor, 
was gone, gone forever. Never more would he hear that 
cheery voice, meet that kindly smile, feel the pressure of that 
reverend hand ; and, as the poor lad looked up with tear-be- 
dimmed eyes at his father's portrait, it seemed to him as if 
all the gladness were gone out of his life and he should never 
know happiness again. 

And the manner of his father's end increased the sharpness 
of his own grief. The thought that he had died a terrible and 
painful death in a strange land made Charlie almost frantic. 
He wanted to know more, to know all, and, when Mrs. Man- 
ners came and took his place by his mother's side, he opened 
one of the papers (Edward had taken the other) and read the 
account mentioned in the letter. 

It appeared that towards the end of August, being about a 
month before the time which he had fixed for his departure 
from the island, Mr. Prince accepted an invitation from sev- 
eral of his friends to join them in a short cruise in the Bay 
of Paria, in a hired steam-yacht. It was to be a sort of ma- 
rine picnic. The day was fine, the air balmy, and there was 
barely enough wind to ripple the surface of the tideless sea, 
which Columbus, or his successors, christened the Gulf of 
Sadness. The party included a fair proportion of ladies ; 
there was music on board, and for a while all went as merry 
as a marriage bell. 

After skirting the north-eastern coast of Trinidad, touching 
at Goose Island, and looking at the Bocas, the yacht was 
steered for the Spanish INIain, the idea being to " let go " in 
an inlet known as Chachacara Bay, and afford any who were 
so minded an opportunity of landing and spending an hour on 
Venezuelan soil. Three or four of the party, however, among 



15° 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



whom was Mr. Prince, having their lives insured under con- 
ditions which precluded them from landing on the continent, 
stayed where they were. 

But owing to some mismanagement — probably neglect of 
sounding, for the bay was not buoyed— the steamer ran on a 
mudbank, stuck there and heeled over. She did not appear 
to be any the worse, and so long as the sea remained smooth 
was in no danger ; yet as the wind might get up before morn- 
ing and the position of the steamer rendered staying on board 
at night very uncomfortable, if not altogether impossible, the 
passengers, on the advice of the captain, went ashore. Mean- 
while, a falucha, then lying at anchor in the bay, was de- 
spatched to Port-of-Spain for a tug, which, as the captain 
thought, would get the yacht off without difficulty. But the 
wind being contrary for the falucha, the tug was not likely to 
arrive before noon on the following day. 

There was very little to see ashore — a few fishermen's huts 
— roofs on stilts — a plantation owned by a coatless peasant 
(who called himself Senor Don Ramon Estramadure, and 
politely placed all his possessions at the disposal of his unin- 
vited guests), and a background of primeval forest. 

Bedding was got ashore, hammocks were slung in Don 
Ramon's /^z//^ and elsewhere, and the excursionists, fanned 
by a gentle breeze, which cooled the air and dispersed the 
mosquitoes, passed a pleasanter night than might have been 
expected. 

At daybreak most of the men set off to bathe in a fresh- 
water creek, which Don Ramon had pointed out to them, and 
where, as he assured them, there were no alligators. Indeed, 
according to his account, the place enjoyed a complete im- 
munity from what the Spaniards c^SS.plaga — meaning thereby 
noxious creatures generally. 

The part of the creek chosen for the bath was secluded 
and picturesque, overshadowed by trees, but close to an ugly 
bit of swamp, which one of the party protested that he would 
not cross for a thousand dollars in gold. 

After swimming and splashing about in the creek for some 
ten or fifteen minutes, Mr. Prince landed at a spot a few yards 
from the point where he had left his clothes. On his way 
thither he was seen to step on what at first sight seemed to 
be a log of wood. But quick as lightning the log up-reared 
an evil-looking head and fastened on Mr. Prince's leg. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 151 

In his surprise and horror Mr. Prince screamed, and one 
of his companions — the same who had said he would not 
cross tlie swamp for a thousand dollars in gold — ran to him 
just as the snake, loosing its hold, glided away. 

" My God ! A water moccasin," he exclaimed. 

" Is it dangerous ? " asked Mr. Prince. " It felt like red 
hot needles, but the wound does not seem much." 

It was hardly perceptible, indeed. Only two slight punc- 
tures, from which two drops of blood were slowly oozing. 

" Dangerous ! Come here, Masters. Quick, come at 
once ! " 

Masters was one of the party and a surgeon. He came 
running. 

" Mr. Prince has been bitten by a water mocassin." 

The doctor turned pale. 

" A water mocassin. Are you sure .'' " 

" Quite. I know them only too well. I have seen scores. 
And that swamp is just the place for them. What is to be 
done } " 

" If I had my pocket-case with me I would cut the piece 
out right away. There is only one chance. We must try 
and suck the poison out." 

" The bite is dangerous, then ? " said Mr. Prince. 

" It is. I could not say otherwise without telling you a lie. 
The water mocassin is one of the most venomous snakes 
known ; but we may perhaps succeed in sucking out the 
poison. Lie down, please. Fetch Mr. Prince's clothes, 
Power, and one of you go at once to the steamer for my 
pocket-case. Bring also brandy — and the captain has some 
medicines, I think. If he has any laudanum, or morphia, or 
chloroform, bring them too." 

And then Dr. Masters began to suck the wound. Power 
and the others occasionally relieving him. When the brandy 
and the laudanum came he gave the patient strong doses of 
both. 

These measures, though they may conceivably have pro- 
longed the span of Mr. Prince's life for a few hours, did not, 
unhappily, suffice to save it. 

When the steam-tug arrived they carried him on board the 
yacht, and there, shortly before sunset, he died. 

At the outset he suffered much, but whether from the 
effects of the venom or the brandy and laudanum, or all three 



152 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



combined, he presently sank into a state of semi-conscious- 
ness, and at the last appeared to be entirely free from 
pain. 

On the following day his body was laid in the Port-of-Spain 
cemetery. 

The writer of the account had obviously personal knowledge 
of the events which he described, and the editor of the paper, 
in bringing it to the notice of his readers, observed that the 
catastrophe had caused a most painful sensation in Port-of- 
Spain, where during his short sojourn Mr. Prince had made 
for himself many friends and gained the confidence and 
respect of all with whom he had come in contact. 

When Charlie had ended his reading he consulted Mrs. 
Manners as to the expediency of showing the account to his 
mother. He thought it might rouse her from the tearless 
apathy into which she had fallen. Mrs. Manners agreed with 
him, and handing her friend the paper, pointed out the por- 
tentous headlines : 

" A Terrible Fatality. 
" The Death of Mr. Leonard Prince." 

Mrs. Prince took the paper and read the account, read it 
again and again, weeping. 

" Oh, God," she murmured, " that he should die thus, away 
from us all, without a word of farewell, and be laid in a grave 
I can never see. Why did I let him go ! Why did I let him 



go 



In truth, Mrs. Prince was suffering from stings of con- 
science as well as from grief for the loss of her husband. She 
saw now, as she might have seen before, had she not wilfully 
shut her eyes, how the breach of trust which he had com- 
mitted, mainly at her instance, had weighed on his mind and 
embittered his life. She allowed him to go to Trinidad, 
against her better judgment, for money. Or, to put the mat- 
ter more accurately, she would have used her influence to 
prevent him going if money had not been needed ; and the 
need was created by that first fatal step which she had per- 
suaded him to adopt. 

Yet when she was somewhat recovered from the shock and 
could think calmly, it was not difficult to convince herself 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 153 

that she had acted for the best. Nobody could have fore- 
seen the fatal issue of the enterprise. Leonard himself was 
eager to go, and everybody thought that the voyage out and 
home would do him good. Yes, she had acted for the best, 
and terrible as was the blow it had its compensations. 

Her dear husband had not died in vain. The insurance 
money would make good the misappropriation, and the world 
would never know that her eldest son was a thief and her 
husband a defaulter. True, the rest of her life would be an 
abiding sorrow ; but Leonard Prince's memory would be 
honored in the place where he was born, and Edward and 
Charles could look their neighbors in the face without 
shame. 

This was the way in which Mrs. Prince looked on her hus- 
band's death after some days, when the stress of her grief 
was beginning to abate. 

And Edward, though neither a man of strong affections 
nor noble nature, was as much affected by the terrible news 
as his mother and his brother. His father's tragic death 
gave him intense pain, and for awhile, albeit he had press- 
ing affairs on hand, he could think of naught else. But this 
was not for long. The sun had hardly gone down on his 
grief before he said to himself that, regarded as an incident, 
his father's death was by no means a misfortune u-ithout 
alloy. 

The next day he said to himself that it was a very good 
thing, and before long Edward had come to the conclusion 
that it was the best thing that could have happened — in his 
own interest and that of the family. 

He would step into his father's shoes, become the head of 
the firm, and for several years to come take the lion's share 
of the profits. It was, moreover, an immense relief to know 
that the family skeleton had been buried in his father's grave. 
The insurance money would put right that awkward matter 
of Mrs. Lincolns trust, and the annual premiums, if he de- 
cided to continue the policy in Charlie's name and his own, 
might be greatly reduced. 

And he could not help thinking that his accession of for- 
tune, and the importance he should derive from being head 
of the firm and boss of Peele (as he fully intended to be) 
would influence Olive in his favor, and induce her to cease 
her philandering with Charlie. She was a girl who valued 



154 ^^^ PRIiVCES OF PEELE. 

position ; and by the time slie was free to marry he should 
be able to offer her a position which she would not disdain. 
For Edward believed that he could greatly increase the al- 
ready considerable profits of the office, and in dreams saw 
himself M.P. for the borough, and a man of mark in the 
county. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 155 



CHAPTER XX. 

AN UNPLEASANT SURPRISE. 

Three or four days after receivins; tidings of his father's 
death Edward read the will to his mother and brother. 

The testator appointed his wife and his son Edward as his 
sole executors and trustees. The business, subject to the 
payment of five hundred a year to the widow during her life- 
time, was left to Edward and Charles in the proportion of 
two-thirds to the former and one third to the latter, until the 
younger should attain his twenty-sixth year, w'hen he would 
take an equal share with Edward. Mrs. Prince was to remain 
in possession of Holmcroft, and have the use of the furniture 
in common with her two sons. After her death the house 
and its contents were to be offered to the elder of them at a 
fair valuation ; if he declined the offer, then to the younger. 
In the event of both of them declining to purchase the prop- 
ert}^, it was to be sold to the highest bidder, and the pro- 
ceeds to be divided equally between them. The personalty 
was also to be equally divided, except the carriage-horses 
and the carriages, which were left to Mrs. Prince. All the 
other horses were left to Charlie. 

Jack's name was not mentioned. Nor was there any allu- 
sion to the secret. 

The will having been executed several years previously, 
when Charlie was under age, he took his exclusion from the 
executorship as a matter of course. Moreover, two executors 
were quite enough, and he had full confidence that Edward, 
with whom his relations were now as seemingly fraternal as 
they had ever been, would administer the estate honestly 
and well. 

" How much was father's life insured for ? " he asked. 

" Fifteen thousand pounds. We are all in the same policy, 
you know ; and if either of us was to die the same amount 
would be payable to the surviving member of the firm." 



136 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" How good of father to make so great a sacrifice for our 
benefit ! He must have paid two or three thousand pounds 
in premiums. We shall be quite rich." 

"Yes," said Edward dryly, "we shall not be badly off. 
Your third share will make more than a thousand a year, 
nett." 

" I would give it all, give everything, if we could have him 
back for one short hour," exclaimed the young fellow pas- 
sionately, and then, too full to say more, left the room. 

" Shall we tell him now or not } " asked Edward of his 
mother deferentially. 

He did not say whom or what, but Mrs. Prince understood 
him perfectly. 

" We will tell him neither now nor at any other time," 
she answered emphatically, though her voice was low and 
troubled. " Why should we ? What would be the good ? " 

" That is not exactly the question, mother. We must tell 
him, sooner or later." 

" But why ? " 

" Don't you see ? He is a beneficiary, and we shall have 
to account to him for his share of the fifteen thousand 
pounds we are going to receive from the Insurance Com- 
pany. Suppose he asks how I am going to invest it ? It 
will be quite within his right." 

This was a new idea to Mrs. Prince, and it evidently caused 
her great annoyance. She made an impatient gesture, and 
before answering thought deeply for several minutes. 

" You say he must know sooner or later," she said at 
length, " let it be later then. If poor father had wanted him 
to know he would have told him, and we must respect father's 
wishes. It is a duty, a sacred duty. Besides, I don't want 
him to know," 

" But what shall I say if he asks how I am disposing of 
the money ? " 

" Say you are investing it in Consols. You will have to 
do, won't you? Mrs. Lincoln's fortune was in Consols." 

" So far you are quite right, and the expedient might an- 
swer for a while. But he must know, eventually, and to tell 
the truth, mother, I don't like taking the responsibility of 
keeping it from him," said Edward uneasily. He feared that 
by letting Charlie think the insurance money was available 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



157 



for distribution he might at some future time have it in his 
power to demand payment in full of his share therein. As 
Edward had often told his clients, the path of trustees is be- 
set with snares and pitfalls, and they cannot be too careful. 

" I will take the responsibility. When I am gone — and I 
do not think I shall long survive this fearful trial — when I 
am gone you can please yourself. But for the present, at 
least, Charles must not know. You will not tell him, Edward, 
without permission. Promise me." 

Mrs. Prince generally got her way, and Edward, feeling 
that it would be unseemly — at any rate just then — to set his 
mother at defiance, gave the required promise, albeit reluc- 
tantly and with a bad grace. 

" I have my reasons," she said. 

He guessed as much, and having a shrewd idea what they 
were felt all the more vexed, for Edward had no sympathy 
with sentiment when it conflicted with common-sense. 
Charlie had been Mr. Prince's favorite, and he Charlie's 
model and faultless exemplar, and the mother shrank almost 
with horror from letting the lad know that his father had 
made free with Mrs. Lincoln's fortune. He might not see, 
as she did, that in this instance at least the end justified the 
means. It would be quite time enough to tell him — if he 
must be told — when the new trustees had been appointed 
and the defalcation made good. The wrong — the unavoid- 
able wrong, as she put it to herself — would then be redressed, 
and nobody, much less Charlie, would have any right to com- 
plain. 

The day after the reading of the will Edward informed the 
Insurance Company of his father's decease, at the same time 
intimating that on receipt of the certificate of death from 
Trinidad he should prove the will and make a formal claim 
for the amount payable under the late Mr. Prince's life 
policy. 

The Company's Secretary " had the honor to acknowledge 
the receipt of the letter and awaited his correspondent's fur- 
ther communication," which he assured him, would have the 
prompt attention of his Directors. 

" That's all right," thought Edward, as he docketed and filed 
the Secretary's letter. " Payment is due three months after 
notification of decease ; but it's a rich Company and I have 
no doubt will settle on production of the probate. That's the 



158 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

good of dealing with a first-class firm. Rather a pity, though, 
that the premium was paid only last month. If it had fallen 
due this month or next we should have saved ;^5oo. How- 
ever, we cannot have it every way, ... I think we had 
better continue the policy on our joint lives. Charlie is sure 
to break his neck one of these days, and fifteen thousand and 
nothing to pay out of it would be a fine haul." 

The news of Mr. Prince's death caused an even more pain- 
ful sensation in Peele than it had caused in Port-of-Spain. 
As the local paper observed, it cast quite a gloom over the 
town. Everybody of note in the neighborhood left cards 
at Holmcroft, and Mrs. Prince received so many letters of 
condolence that she was obliged to answer them by litho- 
graphed circulars. 

The Town Council held a special meeting, at which an ad- 
dress of condolence to the widow and family was unanimously 
adopted, and a resolution taken to place a marble bust of 
their late colleague in the vestibule of the Town Hall. The 
local justices adopted a similar address, and the County 
Court Judge delivered from the bench an eloquent eulogium 
on the deceased gentleman and expressed the warmest sym- 
pathy with his family in their bereavement. 

The theme of the addresses and of the speeches by which 
they were supported was the late Mr. Prince's public spirit, 
unfailing urbanity and unswerving integrity. Above all, his 
integrity. 

" Although for forty years member of a profession which 
affords more scope for equivocal practices than any other, 
and is popularly yet erroneously supposed to be incompatible 
with high honor and fair dealing, nobody has ever ventured 
to question Mr. Prince's honesty and straightforwardness. 
His best epitaph will be that he never took up a question- 
able case or engaged in a transaction that would not bear the 
light." Thus the Judge. 

All this was very pleasing to Mrs. Prince, and made her 
bereavement more tolerable. But it suggested a possibility 
which, when she thought of it, terrified her beyond measure, 

" If they should get to know," she said to Edward. 

" They won't get to know, mother. There is less likeli- 
hood of their getting to know than ever there was. In a 
month or so I shall draw the insurance money, and put the 
right amount in Consols, in our joint names, as trustees 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 159 

under the will of the late Leonard Prince, Then we shall 
be as safe as houses." 

" But doesn't Lillywhite know ?" 

" He only guesses. And if he were to say anything, no- 
body would believe him. 1 should only have to open the safe 
and show the certificates to convict Lilh'white of a base slan- 
der. Besides, he is very much cut up about father's death ; 
and to do him justice, 1 do not think he has the least desire 
to play the traitor. " What would it profit him } " 

l^Irs. Prince gave a sigh of relief. 

" Well, get the money and buy the Consols as soon as ever 
you can, dear," she said, " I shall be on pins till you do." 

A few days afterwards Mrs. Prince received a letter from 
Mrs. Lincoln, who was at Pallanza. She had read an account 
of Mr. Prince's death in the Times, quoted by that paper from 
a Trinidad contemporary. She could not have been more 
shocked and distressed, she said, had Mr. Prince been her 
own brother, and warmly sympathized with Mrs. Prince in 
the grievous misfortune which had befallen her, all the more, 
as it was a grievous misfortune for herself. Since her own 
husband's death Mr. Prince had been her best friend ; she 
was under the greatest obligation to him for acting as her 
trustee and discharging the duties of the office so faithfully 
and well. She presumed she would now have to find another 
trustee — perhaps two — but as to this she would confer with 
Edward on her return to All Hallows. 

Mrs. Lincoln observed further that she doubted whether 
she should remain at All Hallows during the coming winter. 
It was an expensive place to keep up and the chancery suit 
had made serious inroads on her income. She felt disposed 
to take a house on the coast, within easy reach of London. 
But of this more w^hen they met ; she expected to be at All 
Hallows for a few days in the course of the following 
month. 

" That means," said Mrs. Prince, reflectively, after Edward 
had read the letter, '' that means she has made up her mind 
to leave All Hallows." 

" It certainly looks so." 

" I shall be very sorry. Mrs. Lincoln is a pleasant neigh- 
bor and a kind friend — and you would not have nearly so 
many opportunities of meeting Olive." 

"If I remain Mrs. Lincoln's legal adviser, and I think I 



i6o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

shall, and if this chancery suit goes on — and I am sure it 
will — I shall meet Olive pretty often." 

" And Charlie will meet her very seldom," he thought. " It 
is a most excellent idea, and I hope Mrs. Lincoln will carry 
it into effect." 

" Has it ever occurred to you that she may make you her 
trustee ? " 

" It has, and I trust she will — one of them. That will 
keep the business in the office." 

" Need she appoint two ? " 

" There is no law compelling her to do so ; but you may 
depend on it that she will." 

" Why >. " 

" Because it is the right thing to do, and Mrs. Lincoln 
knows it. She appointed two in the first instance, and only 
refrained from appointing a successor to Wilmot because of 
her unbounded confidence in father. She cannot be expected 
to have the same confidence in me — yet." 

" Well, I hope she will provide you with a pleasant col- 
league, dear." 

" I hope so. One who will sign whatever I put before him, 
without reading it, and never bother his co-trustee with idle 
questions." 

The same post that brought Mrs. Prince the letter from 
Mrs. Lincoln brought Charlie a letter from Olive, full of deep 
feeling and expressing the warmest sympathy and love. It 
must be terrible to lose such a father as his had been, she 
said, and her heart bled for him ; indeed, it did. His sorrow, 
was her sorrow, his loss her loss, not only because she felt for 
him and with him, but because she had loved and honored 
Mr. Prince more than she could tell. He was one of the 
best and sunniest men she had ever known. It was a great 
blessing to have had so good a father, and she counted it 
as a priceless privilege to have had such a friend. 

And then Olive went on to speak of themselves, mentioning 
the probability of her mother giving up All Hallows, and re- 
gretting the concealment they were obliged to practice. But 
she held out a hope that when the time of mourning for his 
father was past, her mother might be prevailed upon to sanc- 
tion an informal engagement, an engagement, that was to 
say, not to be made public until Olive came of age. 

Charlie read this letter with mingled feelings. It gave 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. ' i6i 

him a strange sense of sweet pain. Olive's appreciation of his 
father's noble qualities, the assurance of her sympathy and 
love were unspeakably grateful to him. But the thoughts her 
words suggested and the consciousness of the irreparable loss 
which he had sustained wrung his heart with anguish. With 
his father gone and All Hallows empty, Peele would be like 
a strange land. The dear old days, so full of pleasure and 
enjoyment, when the present had no sorrows and the future 
no terrors, were gone forever. Fair as were his prospects, 
and albeit he had come into a goodly heritage, and Olive 
was loving and true, he was still cast down ; and at times he 
had a vague foreboding that his father's death would prove 
the harbinger of further misfortunes, as well for himself as 
for others. 

But only at times, for he was too busy for much brooding. 
It almost seemed as if Mr. Prince's demise had created 
business. It poured in from every side, and Charlie got his full 
share of it. Then the books had to be balanced, and other 
preparations made for proving the will. At the same time, 
Edward was making interest to obtain the public appointments 
so long held by his father. The brothers had already received 
a kind letter from Lord Hermitage, in which he spoke in high 
terms of the late Mr. Prince, and requested them to act as 
his agents on the old terms. 

The papers from Trinidad did not come quite so soon as 
Edward had expected, but within a few days of their arrival he 
and his mother paid the succession duty and proved the will. 

"When will you write to the insurance company?" asked 
Mrs. Prince, when the transaction was completed. 

" This very day ; I have only been waiting for the probate, 
which I shall of course let them see." 

" And how soon are you likely to get the money ? " 

" In a few days. The directors meet on Tuesday, I think, 
and as everything is in order I don't see why they should 
not send us a check at once. The .^gis make a specialty 
of prompt settlements." 

" That is well. What a relief it will be ! Before your 
father died it did not trouble me much. But now, I know 
how much he must have suffered." 

On the Wednesday next after this conversation Edward 
found on his table a bulky packet, bearing the seal of the 
^Egis Life Assurance Office. 



1 62 THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 

"They have returned the probate," he said to himself; 

" and sent a check, I wonder ? If they have not I will 

offer to allow them two months' interest at bank rate. 

Mother worries so, and I want to get the confounded thing 

off my mind." (Opening the packet.) 

" A letter — of course — but no check. . . . What — why 
— they — villains, idiots — what do they mean ? " and Edward 
Prince, after turning as pale as if he had seen a ghost, 
reddened with rage and dashed the letter on the floor. 

Then he picked it up and read it again. Thus the 
portentous missive ran : — 

" Dear Sir, — I am instructed by my directors to inform 
you that as facts have come to their knowledge which lead 
them to believe that Mr. Leonard Prince did not observe 
the conditions of his license, they are unable to make any 
payment in respect of his joint policy (No. 43,751). 

" I have the honor to return herewith the probate of your 
late father's will, the receipt of which be good enough to 
acknowledge, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" Myles Cutter, Sec." 



THE FRINGES OF FEELE. 



163 



CHAPTER XXII 

E D W A R D' S DILEMMA, 

The refusal of the insurance company to comply with his 
demand was a greater shock to Edward than his father's 
death. The latter event, though it befell so suddenly and 
tragically, was at least in the course of nature. It had been 
foreseen, and, in a sense, provided for. 

But that an office like the ^gis should decline to pay up 
was an undreamt of contingency, a bolt from the blue, 
and Edward was so fiercely indignant at what he deemed the 
company's flagrant dishonesty, and so sick with disappoint- 
ment, as to be rendered for a while unfit to consider the 
matter fairly. 

" My directors declined to pay, do they ? " he muttered. 
"Well I'll make them pay, then. I'll sue them; I'll expose 
them, I'll smash them. Haven't we paid the premiums 
regularly all the time .'' Didn't I get a license and pay for 
it .'' . . It's fearfully awkward. What will my mother say, 
and what shall we do about the broken trust .'' Mrs. Lincoln 
will be here in a fortnight, and if she appoints new trustees 
before I get the money out of these rascals — that would be 
ruin. But I must get it ; there is no other word for it — 
must, must. . . From facts that have come to their knowl- 
edge they have reason to believe that father did not observe 
the conditions of his license. By going ashore when the 
steamer went aground, I suppose. They have seen the 
account in the papers. They argue that if he had not landed 
he would not have been bitten by the snake. But he was 
obliged to land ; if he had stayed on board and it had come 
on to blow he might have been drowned. He acted for the 
best. He could not prudently have done otherwise. . . . 
No ! There is nothing in it. It's just a miserable attempt 
at chicane, unworthy of a great office like the ^gis. They 



1 64 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

think I am in want of the money, and that they can frighten 

me into offering a compromise. I'll see them first. I'll 

not take a penny less than the full amount. . . . Shall I 
confer with Lillywhite ? The old fellow is very shrewd. . . 
No, I'll write to the secretary and ask what he means, and 
keep my own counsel till I get his answer." 

So Edward, bottling up his wrath, constrained himself to 
write a studiously courteous, yet curt and slightly sarcastic 
letter, asking Mr. Cutter " kindly to state for his information 
the precise ground on which the company refused to pay 
the amount for which his father had insured his life, and 
paid the stipulated premiums regularly, and to the last 
fraction." 

Mr. Cutter's reply came in due course. It was to the 
effect that, after reading the account of the late Mr, Prince's 
death in the public papers, an account which was implicitly 
confirmed by the certificates his executors had submitted to 
them, the directors could come to no other conclusion than 
that he had invalidated the policy by violating its provisions. 
The license was for a voyage to and from Trinidad, and the 
perils incident thereto, and a limited residence in the island. 
It did not include the perils incident to a cruise in the Bay of 
Paria and a landing on the Spanish Main. In these circum- 
stances the directors could not, in duty to their shareholders, 
pay the amount of which the late Mr. Prince had insured his 
life by the joint policy (43,751). 

" There seems to be something in it after all," soliloquized 
Edward when he had read the letter. ..." The accident 
was clearly not incident to the voyage between England and 
Trinidad. But surely a license to reside in Trinidad implies 
a right to do whatever an ordinary resident in the island 
would do — cross a river, climb a mountain, or cruise in the 
bay, which is almost completely landlocked and as much a 
lake as a sea. However, I will have Lillywhite in and hear 
what he says — two heads are better than one — and I may as 
well tell Charlie at the same time. It will save trouble." 

So the two were called and the matter laid before them. 

" What do I think about it ? " exclaimed Charlie, impet- 
uously. " Well, I call it a piece of infernal rascality. The 
grounds on which these people want to repudiate their 
liability appear to me quite frivolous, and I should pitch into 
them without further notice." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 165 

Edward smiled. 

" What do you say, Lillywhite ? " (turning to the managing 
clerk). 

" Well, I cannot quite agree with Mr. Charles that it is a 
piece of rascality. There are two ends to a stick, break it as 
often as you will, and it seems to me that these people have 
a case, though not one to run away with ; and they are surely 
taking a very narrow view of their obligations in refusing to 
pay. But it is a nice point, a very nice point, and one as to 
which two good lawyers might easily arrive at opposite con- 
clusions. Was your father, according to the strict letter of 
his license, justified in taking that cruise ? That is the ques- 
tion. I should say he was, and I can promise you one thing, 
Mr. Edward : if it comes to a fight, and the case is tried in 
this county, you'll get a verdict, whatever the lawyers say. 
But perhaps the compan}^ don't mean fighting, after all. How 
would it be to show your teeth — write that, in view of the 
position they have taken up, you have no alternative but to 
proceed for the recovery of the sum due under the policy, 
and inquire who will accept service for them ? " 

" That is exactly what I thought of doing, Lillywhite, and 
I will do it to-day — nothing like striking while the iron is 
hot." 

This ended the conference. Edward turned to his desk, 
and the other two left the room. 

" A very unpleasant affair this, Mr. Charles," observed 
the managing clerk, sympathetically, when they were in the 
outer office. 

" Very ; and rascally, too, on the part of the ^gis people, 
I call it. But you don't think there is any chance of their 
winning, do you ? " 

" Not with a Peele jury. But when you go to law you 
never know what the issue will be. A surprise may be sprung 
on you at any moment ; and fifteen thousand pounds is a 
large sum, either to gain or lose." 

" Yes. I wonder why my father insured his life for so 
much. It was very, very good of him ; but there was really 
no need. My mother is provided for by her marriage settle- 
ment, and the office will bring in quite enough for Ned and 
me." 

" One of you might get married, and that would involve 
another establishment, you know." 



1 66 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" It would not involve an outlay of fifteen thousand pounds. 
However, that is no reason why the company should not pay 
up, and I am glad that Ned is going for them." 

" Humph ! They have not told him, then. I thought as 
much," mused Lillywhite, as he returned to his desk. " They 
ought to have done. It may be my duty to enlighten him 
one of these days." 

Mr. Lillywhite, as Edward had informed his mother, was a 
good deal "cut up" by Mr. Prince's death. He knew that 
he had not been very kind on the occasion of their last in- 
terview ; letting pique get the better of propriety, and rather 
returning evil for good than good for good (Mr. Prince had 
always treated him handsomely), and being at the bottom by 
no means a bad fellow, he greatly regretted the fact ; " it 
stuck in his crop," to use his own expression ; and, by way 
of making amends, the managing clerk resolved to do all that 
he could for his late employer's family. This meant Mrs. 
Prince and Charlie, particularly Charlie, for though Edward 
had observed the conditions of their compact, and since his 
father's death had been surprisingly affable, the managing 
clerk did not love him. 

Though Lillywhite had not been told so, he inferred with 
certainty that the insurance money was destined to replace 
Mrs. Lincoln's trust fund ; he also foresaw that failure to re- 
cover the amount from the company would lead to a serious 
crisis in the fortunes of the family and the firm. 

It would be his business to protect Charlie. 

Edward might look to himself, 

" If he likes to get into a mess — make himself a party to 
the fraud, and run the risk of being struck off the rolls — that 
is his affair," thought Lillywhite, 

By return of post came an answer to Edward's second letter 
to Mr, Myles Cutter. It was provokingly laconic, and ran 
as follows : — 

" I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your es- 
teemed favor of yesterday, and in reply, beg to inform you 
that Messrs, Bartrum, Fox, and Crafty, Chancery-lane, are 
prepared to accept service on our behalf." 

" They do mean fighting, then," muttered Edward between 
his set teeth. Lie had cherished a lingering hope that when 



THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. id-j 

" my directors" saw that he was in earnest they would climb 
down. 

" So be it. I will hurry on the action with all speed ; draw 
up a case for counsel's opinion and retain Going and Somers. 
There is no reason why the cause should not be tried at the 
winter Assizes." 

When Edward went home he told his mother. 

" The insurance company won't pay," he said bitterly. 

" Won't pay ! Why } " 

*' There, read for yourself," showing her Cutter's letters 
and the copies of his answers. 

It is given to few people to consider judicially cases in 
which they are personally interested, and Mrs. Prince was 
no<" one of them. In the refusal of the ^Egis to pay she saw 
only a vile attempt to ruin herself and her children, and de- 
nounced the company with passionate indignation. 

" You must make them pay. Don't dally, make them," 
she cried. 

" You may be sure I shall do my best, mother." 

*' Your best won't do, Edward. You must make them. 
What is law for, if not to redress WTong and punish fraud .-' 
You are a lawyer, are you not ? " 

He tried to explain, but she interrupted him wdth angry 
exclamations, until, and at length, he, too, grew angry. 

" Do you suppose I have not as much interest in getting 
the money as you have ? " he said. " If you think I am not 
competent to conduct the case, put it into the hands of some 
other solicitor. I won't stand in the way. But at least listen 
to reason, and please to understand that though I will strain 
every nerve to succeed, it is beyond my power to guarantee 
success. As for the law and fraud, and wrong and so forth, 
perhaps the less we say about that the better." 

Mrs. Prince rose from her chair, her nostrils quivering, her 
hands clenched, and fierce words rose to her lips ; but re- 
straining herself with a great effort she asked her son quietly, 
albeit in a voice trembling with suppressed wrath, what would 
happen if he did not succeed. 

" Frankly, mother, I don't know. It will be time enough 
to consider that contingency when it arises, and I think 
we shall succeed ; and chances are at least in our favor. I 
only want you to understand that the company have a case, 
and we must not reckon on success as a certainty." 



1 68 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" When, then — how soon ? " 

" When is the case likely to be tried ? In two or three 
months I hope. At any rate, before Whitsuntide." 

" God help me ! " she murmured. " Until then I will try 
to possess my soul in patience. . . . But Mrs. Lincoln 
is coming to confer with you about the appointment of fresh 
trustees. She will be here in a few days. What will you 
say to her 1 " 

" I shall temporize. The appointment will be made by 
deed, which I will promise to prepare as soon as I have a 
little spare time. Mrs. Lincoln's matter is not urgent ; she 
is too good-natured to hurry me, and one way and another I 
can easily put her off three or four months." 

" Very well, I leave it to you," returned Mrs. Prince 
gloomily. " Anything but exposure. It would kill me — and 
not a word to Charlie, mind. You see I was right in not let- 
ting you tell him the other day." 

" I am not so sure about that. You know my opinion — 
and circumstances will force us to tell him — mark me if they 
don't." 

" But not yet, not yet. Spare him a little longer — and 
me," murmured Mrs. Prince faintly, as if the mere idea were 
more than she could bear. 

Edward said no more, but if he had not dreaded another 
scene he would, probably, have insisted on telling Charlie 
the whole truth without further delay, for he perceived that 
if the impending action against the company went against 
them he should have to bear the brunt. Up to the time of 
his father's death Edward had neither incurred blame nor 
taken responsibility. He had simply been the recipient of a 
secret. But his father's mantle had fallen on his shoulders, 
and whether as Mr. Prince's executor or Mrs. Lincoln's solici- 
tor, it was his duty to inform that lady of the disappearance 
of her settled fortune — unless he could restore it — and if he 
failed in his suit restoration would be impossible. In that 
event he would be regarded, and rightly, z.% particeps a-iminis, 
and though his offence might be less flagrant than his father's, 
exposure would react injuriously on his character and mar 
his professional prospects. 

The thought that Charlie was out of it all, and should the 
" worst come to the worst," would be able to say to Mrs. 
Lincoln and Olive, " I knew nothing of this dreadful busi- 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 1 69 

ness ; if I had known I should have told you," made him almost 
wild, and he made up his mind that if counsel's opinion were 
unfavorable he would tell Charlie all, whatever his mother 
might say. 

But counsel's opinion w'as not unfavorable. It was to this 
effect : From a strictly legal point of view the insurance 
company were probably right in their contention that the 
late Mr. Prince had violated the conditions of his license. 
On the other hand, there could be no question that the land- 
ing on the Venezuelan coast was unintentional, and, in 
the circumstances, unavoidable. Moreover, juries did not 
always take a strictly legal view of the cases which they are 
called upon to decide. They seldom sympathized with 
wealthy corporations, and in this instance the sympathies of 
the jury would almost certainly be with the plaintiffs, for at the 
worst Mr. Prince had erred from inadvertence ; the ground- 
ing of the yacht and the bite of the water mocassin being acci- 
dents pure and simple, and no fault of his. Taking all these 
facts into consideration there was every reason to believe 
that the executors were well advised in taking action against 
the company. 

After this Edward, regarding success as certain, decided 
to say nothing to Charlie till after the trial. 



170 THE PRINCES OF PEELE, 



CHAPTER XXI. 

olive's design. 

As the Princes had no interest in making a secret of their 
difference with the insurance company, it soon became a 
matter of common knowledge in the borough of Peele, and the 
burgesses naturally sided with the family of their " late 
eminent and respected townsman," as the local paper 
described Mr, Prince. Equally natural was it that the sub- 
ject should be warmly discussed wherever men met, and the 
" shameful conduct " of the ^gis nightly denounced in every 
tavern in the town. 

The Mercury did a leading article on the subject, in the 
course of which it expressed great regret that a certain 
highly-respected lady should be called upon, so soon after 
the death of her late lamented husband, to undergo another 
trial, assured her of its sympathy, and wished her a happy 
issue out of her afflictions. 

This and the many other assurances of sympathy which 
she received were very gratifying to Mrs. Prince. She 
regarded them as well-deserved tributes to the respectability 
of the family and the memory of her husband. But Edward, 
who took wider views than his mother, would have been 
much better pleased had the sympathy of his neighbors been 
somewhat less demonstrative. He feared that it might do 
him more harm than good, and the result justified his appre- 
hensions. The defendants, getting wind of the strong feel- 
ing which prevailed against them at Peele, and believing with 
reason, that no Peele jury could be trusted to render an 
impartial verdict, applied for a change of venue, and the 
application, though energetically opposed by the plaintiffs' 
counsel, was granted, and an order made for the case to be 
tried at London by a special jury. 

"A bad job, this, Mr. Charlie," observed Lillywhite 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 171 

gravely, when they received the news from Edward, who was 
in London, " watching the case." 

" I don't see it, Lillywhite. One jury is as good as 
another. We have right on our side, and an insurance com- 
pany that contests a claim always fights at a disadvantage. 
The legal presumption, as well as popular feeling, is against 
them." 

" That is true. All the same, I don't much like London 
juries. They are conceited chaps, those Londoners. Then 
the omen is bad. It is just as if you were going to fight a 
duel, and your opponent had won the toss for the choice of 
ground." 

Edward, also, was discouraged by the result of this first 
passage of arms. Like Lillywhite, he regarded it as a bad 
omen. But a consultation with Sergeant Somers, his leading 
counsel, who never, under any circumstances, allowed him- 
self to be discouraged, restored his confidence. 

" I am not sure that you don't gain more than you lose," 
observed the great advocate. " Though a Peele jury might 
be more friendly, a London jury is sure to be more intelli- 
gent. On the facts before me, Mr. Prince, I have little doubt 
as to the result. Not that I think our legal position is 
absolutely unassailable — it has one or two very weak points 
— but I shall be able to make a strong appeal to the jury on 
their sentimental side, and when sentiment and prejudice go 
together they are bad to beat." 

So Edward went home comforted, for the sergeant was a 
great verdict winner. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Lincoln and Olive were returned to All 
Hallows, and the now senior partner of the firm of Prince 
and Prince presently waited on his client to inform her as 
to the progress of the chancery suit (if it could be said to 
progress) and consult her touching the appointment of new 
trustees under her marriage settlement. 

His report was disheartening. To all appearance the suit 
might go on forever, or, at any rate, until the partnership 
estate was exhausted and there was nothing left for anybody, 
save the lawyers, and Mrs. Lincoln, appalled by the prospect, 
urged her adviser to try whether he could not put a stop to 
further litigation by arranging a compromise. To effect this 
object, she was ready to make any sacrifice short of absolute 
surrender. 



172 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Edward quite agreed with his client as to the expediency 
of the course she suggested, and said he should use his ut- 
most efforts to carry out her wishes. He would have said so 
in any case, if only by way of keeping in the lady's good 
graces ; but in this instance he spoke with more than pro- 
fessional sincerity. True, the chancery suit was a good 
thing for the office ; but it is doubtful wisdom to kill the 
goose that lays the golden egg, and Edward reflected that 
in view of certain eventualities it were a still better thing to 
deserve well of Mrs. Lincoln. Moreover, as he had not 
abandoned the hope of marrying Olive, it was clearly his in- 
terest to save the remnant of her heritage from the harpies 
of the law. 

Mrs. Lincoln next mentioned that she was resolved to 
leave All Hallows. It would go very much against the grain. 
But she felt that she must ; the expense of '' running it " and 
fighting a chancery suit at the same time was greater than she 
could afford ; and Edward received instructions to advertise 
the house to be let furnished. Mr. Marsh, an old friend 
of her husband's, whose business took him frequently to 
America, owned a pleasant little house on the coast, not more 
than two hours' railway journey from Peele, which, hav- 
ing no present use for, he had offered her, at a nominal rent. 
There she and Olive would abide until they were " out of 
chancery," and could see their way more clearly. 

" And now about my trustees," observed Mrs. Lincoln. 
" I suppose I should appoint two." 

" That is as you like. You have power under the settle- 
ment to appoint two." 

" And I shall do so. It is more regular ; and it is not fair 
to saddle one friend with the entire responsibility. Every- 
body is not like your dear father. He was one in a thousand. 
The money is still in Consols, I suppose ? " 

" Yes, certainly, of course," answered Edward with a ner- 
vous start ; and his eyes fell somewhat, and a fugitive flush 
of shame mantled his brow, for he was not yet so case- 
hardened that he could lie in cold blood without a sense of 
humiliation and shame. 

" Well, keep it there. It is a comfort to know that, what- 
ever happens, I shall have twenty-five hundred dollars a 
year, of which nothing short of the collapse of the British 
Empire can deprive me. But I must have two trustees — 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



173 



would you kindly consent to be one of them — in succession 
to your father ? " 

"With all my heart. I shall only be too glad," was the 
quick and almost eager answer. 

Mrs. Lincoln looked pleased. It was not often that the 
self-contained Edward Prince showed so much warmth. 

" I knew you would. Thank you very much. You lay 
me under a great obligation, which I hope some time to 
have the opportunity of discharging. And now, as to your 
colleague. I cannot think of anybody more suitable than 
Mr. Marsh, the friend of whom I spoke just now. He is a 
man of business and means, and very nice in every way. 

" Will he act ? " 

" I have not the least doubt he will. I shall ask him the 
next time we meet ; or shall I write ? Is there any hurry 
about the appointment .'' " 

" Not the least. And I have so many irons in the fire just 
now that I hardly know which way to turn. Our action 
against the ^gis takes a good deal of my time, not to speak 
of other matters ; and then there is your chancery suit, and 
the proposed compromise, as to which I mean to run up to 
town and see Topper, Sandboy, and Perrywinkle right away." 

" You are very good. Well, never mind about the appoint- 
ment just now. I won't write to Mr. Marsh. I will wait till 
I see him, and as he is going abroad, that will not be for 
some time." 

Edward breathed again. The immediate appointment of 
Mr. Marsh would be fatal. He knew him by repute as a 
very shrewd man of business, not likely, Edward felt sure, to 
accept the trusteeship without ocular demonstration that 
Mrs. Lincoln's Consols stood in their joint names. At all 
hazards the appointment must be delayed until the ^gis 
paid up. 

When her solicitor was gone Mrs. Lincoln gave her 
daughter an account of what had passed, lauding Edward to 
the skies for his kindness and business aptitude. 

Olive was in a captious mood, due m.ainly to the necessity 
(which there was no denying) of leaving All Hallows ; and 
praise of Edward seemed to imply dispraise of Charlie. 

" Where does the kindness come in ? " she asked abruptly, 
when her mother paused for a reply. 



174 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Come in ? What a question. It comes in everywhere, 
First of all in agreeing to be my trustee." 

" That is not much. I remember hearing father say that 
when a trust fund is invested in Government stock a trustee- 
ship involves no risk and very little trouble. Besides, 
Edward Prince being a lawyer will make a charge for his 
trouble, I suppose ? Why don't you ask Charlie or Mr. Lilly- 
white to be a trustee } They would consider it an honor, 
and be quite as efficient as Mr. Marsh, I should say." 

" Not a bad idea, Olive ; and if Mr. Marsh does not return 
from the Continent in a few weeks, or shows any disinclin- 
tion to act, I shall ask Charlie." 

" You think he would be better than Mr. Lillywhite ? " 
asked Olive carelessly, as if it were a matter of indifference 
to her which of the two her mother might prefer. 

" Charlie, of course, if only because he is the younger." 

" Mr. Marsh is not young." 

" No, but he is an old friend. However, I am not nearly 
so wedded to the idea as I was before you suggested Charlie. 
There is no hurry, Edward says, and — we shall see." 

From which Olive inferred that the decision would be in 
accordance with her desires. As may be supposed, her 
motives for wishing Charlie to be chosen were based rather 
on sentiment than reason. If possible she would have had 
him appointed and Edward discarded, but that being out of 
the question she wanted him to be at least equal with his 
brother ; she also thought that if Charlie were made a trustee 
he would be brought into more intimate relations with her 
mother, and that business arising out of the trust might afford 
him an occasional excuse for visiting them at their new home 
by the sea. 

To all seeming a harmless enough design, yet fraught with 
momentous consequences, as well for Olive herself as for the 
Princes. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



175 



CHAPTER XXIIL 

EDWARD SCORES AND OLIVE SCHEMES. 

Edward Prince had no great hope of success in his mis- 
sion of compromise. Nevertheless, the attempt was worth mak- 
ing. If he succeeded he should make a fast friend of Mrs. 
Lincoln, and by serving both mother and daughter increase 
his chance of winning the latter. If he failed, the chancery 
suit would go merrily on, bringing grist to the professional 
mill — for there still existed a considerable residue of the 
partnership estate to cut and carve at. 

So " equal to either fortune " as touching the matter in 
hand, and confident as to the outcome of his action against 
the ^'Egis, Edward went to London in high spirits. His first 
proceeding was to call at the office of Topper, Sandboy, 
and Perrywinkle, of King-street, Cheapside, the legal advisers 
of Mr. Jump, who was supposed to be the most irreconcilable 
litigious of the half-dozen parties concerned in " re Lincoln, 
Lyman, and others." 

Edward had a slight acquaintance with Mr. Perrywinkle, 
who managed the Chancery department of the firm's business, 
and after cooling his heels for an hour in the general office, 
he was allowed to see Mr. Perrywinkle, a short, slightly-built 
man of thirty-five or so, with a quick, vivacious manner, a 
sallow skin, lantern jaws, and beady black eyes. 

Although Edward was exceedingly riled at being kept so long 
waiting, he put on his pleasantest smile and most urbane 
manner, and opened the campaign with an apology to Mr. 
Perrywinkle for trespassing on his valuable time. 

Perrywinkle was equally expansive. 

" Don't mention it, my dear sir," said he. " I am de- 
lighted to see you. Pray take a seat. And now what can I 
do for you ? " 

" Well, we are both busy men, and I will come straight to 
the point. I am concerned for Mrs. Lincoln, as you know, 
and my object is to ascertain whether you don't think it would 



176 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

be advisable for us to cease litigating and arrange our differ- 
ence amongst ourselves." 

Perriwinkle's cadaverous countenance lengthened portent- 
ously. 

" God bless me ! I surely haven't made a miscalculation," 
he exclaimed. "The Pactolean stream is not dried up at its 
source ? There is still corn in Egypt — an estate I mean ? " 

" Of course there is, or I shouldn't be here." 

" I see. Of course you wouldn't. Yes, I see. You are 
from the country, and your client is a widow. Being tired of 
litigation — which I admit is rather a costly luxury — she has 
instructed you, or you have advised her, to hoist the white 
flag, with a view to a suspension of arms and a treaty of 
peace ? " 

Edward nodded. Perrywinkle's manner was growing 
slightly unpleasant, not to say offensive. 

" You have been in the general office .-' " 

" Rather ! I waited there an hour." 

" Well, as I daresay you observed, it is crowded with 
clerks, and there are as many more in other parts of the 
building — and then the rent of these offices ! How much do 
you think we have to make before we get anything for our- 
selves ? " 

" I have no idea." 

" Five thousand a year — rather more than less. We are not 
a country office, and business is business." 

" I understand. You have got hold of a good thing and 
mean to stick to it." 

" I did not say so, but of course you are at liberty to infer 
what you like. However, I may as well tell you that our 
client won't hear of a compromise. He thinks he has been 
badly used, and resents, as an imputation on his good faith, 
Mrs. Lincoln's demand for an account of the firm's transac- 
tions during the twelve months immediately preceding her 
husband's death. He has large independent resources, and 
rneans to go on fighting as long as there is a shot in the 
locker." 

" In that case I have got my answer, and may as well take 
my departure. Good-morning, Mr. Perrywinkle." 

" Good-morning, my dear sir, ^^i^^-morning," repeated 
Perrywinkle, bowing his visitor to the door with effusive 
politeness. 



7'HE PRINCES OF PEELE. 177 

As Edward, highly indignant, rose to take his leave, he 
noticed on Perrywinkle's desk a letter addressed : 

" Jabez J. Jump, Esq., 

Thatched House Club, 
St. James's-street." 

This gave him an idea, on which he forthwith acted. 
Making for Cheapside, he hailed a passing hansom, and 
bade the driver take him to the Thatched House Club. 

" It's highly irregular, and as likely as not I shall meet 
with another rebuff," he thought; "but I'll make the at- 
tempt, if only on the off-chance of getting even with that cad 
of a Perrywinkle." 

Mr. Jump was not in, said the hall porter, but he generally 
lunched at the club, and the most likely time to find him 
disengaged was about 2.30. On this Edward went elsewhere 
for awhile, and, presently returning, met with his man, whose 
acquaintance he had made a few years previously at All 
Hallows. Albeit Jabez J. Jum.p hailed from Vermont, he 
bore not the least resemblance to the Yankee of comedy and 
the comic papers. He was an essentially "all round man." 
His body was round, his face was round, and his limbs were 
round. He had rosy cheeks, shrewd gray eyes, and a genial 
smile. His whiskers were of the orthodox British cut ; he 
neither chewed tobacco nor sported a goatee ; and, strangest 
of all, had almost lost the nasal twang of his native land. 

Mr. Jump received his visitor cordially. 

" Glad to see you, Mr. Prince," he said. "Won't you sit 
down ? What can I offer you .-' A cup of coffee .'' All right. 
Two cups of coffee at once, John Thomas. You smoke, of 
course. Plere is a cigar I can recommend." 

Edward took the proft'ered cigar, and settled himself in the 
very easy chair which Mr. Jump wheeled round for him. 

" A great many changes since v.-e last met five years ago 
at poor Toby's (one of Mr. Lincoln's Christian names was 
Tobias). And sad ones. Toby and your father both gone 
to their long homes ; the house of Lyman, Lincoln, and Jump 
gone to pot ; and ourselves at loggerheads, fighting with the 
ferocity of Kilkenny cats. But such is life. How is Mrs. 
Lincoln ? " 

" V/ell in health, but low in spirits." 



178 THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 

" Owing to this cursed chancery suit, no doubt. Well, I 
don't wonder at that damping anybody's spirits. I know it 
often damps mine ; and it takes a good deal to do that, you 
bet. Why doesn't she come down from her high horse and 
settle, then ? " 

" I am not aware that she ever rode the high horse. Any- 
how, she is quite ready to come to terms." 

" The deuce she is ! Why, it was only last week I said 
to Perrywinkle, ' Why doesn't somebody propose a com- 
promise .'' ' It is about time, I guess. If we quarrel much 
longer there won't be a red cent left to serve as a bone of 
contention. Hadn't you better see Perrywinkle ? " 

" I have seen him, and as the interview was not precisely 
satisfactory I came here to see you." 

" You surely don't mean to say that he told you I did not 
want to end it ? " 

" If he had said you did I should not be here now, Mr. 
Jump." 

" I see. He does not want to end it, and no wonder, con- 
sidering how he is fattening on our folly. I was a fool not 
to think of that before. I w'sh all lawyers were at the devil 
— I beg pardon (laughing he; 'tily), I was forgetting you were 
one of the tribe — all London awyers, let us say. And now 
about business. What are your ideas ? Have you anything 
deiinite to propose ? " 

Edward had something definite to propose, and he put the 
matter so clearly and fairly, and was so " well up " in all the 
complicated details of the case that Mr. Jump complimented 
him on his smartness. After some further conversation the 
American assented, " in principle," to Edward's proposals, 
and undertook to submit them to the other parties to the 
suit, and recommend their adoption. But as two of the 
litigants were in New York, and for other reasons, this 
would require time ; and use what diligence they might 
several months must needs elapse before " the business could 
be put through," but that it would eventually be " put 
through " Mr. Jump had no doubt whatever. 

" I don't think I shall change my lawyers," he observed. 
" It is a bad thing to swop horses when you are crossing the 
stream ; and Perrywinkle knows the ropes. But if I remain 
his client he will have to dance to my tune ; I have danced 
to his quite long enough." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



179 



All of which greatly pleased Edward. He had scored in 
every way ; done a good thing for himself and his client, and 
put a spoke in the wheel of Mr. Perrywinkle ; and he re- 
turned to Peele full of admiration of his own cleverness, and 
in a serene and self-satistied mood. 

" I have as good as settled it," he said complacently to 
Charlie and Lillywhite, " and that means a saving to Mrs. 
Lincoln and Olive of something like two or three score 
thousand pounds out of the fire. Perrywinkle gave me a 
shirty answer, and sneered at me as a country lawyer. But 
I was not going to be bowled over in that way, so I went 
straight to Jump. It was rather a bold thing to do ; but it 
turned out all right. I showed him how desirable it was — 
in his own interest — to come to terms, and he not only 
accepted my proposals — in principle — but undertook to get 
the other parties to the suit to accept them. That is why I 
regard the affair as being practically settled." 

Charlie warmly congratulated his brother on his success. 

" Seeing Jump was simply a master stroke," he said ; " I 
should not have thought of it. I should just have punched 
Perrywinkle's head and come home." 

Edward bore himself rather more modestly when he made 
his report to Mrs. Lincoln. Yet, even with her he did not 
hide his light under a bushel, and felt that he fully deserved 
the profuse thanks which she gave him and the praises she 
bestowed on his fertility of resource and presence of mind. 
OUve also thanked him, and so graciously and heartily withal 
(for had he not rendered them a great service and lifted a 
load of care from her mother's mind ?) as to raise his hopes 
still higher and make him hardly less confident of winning 
her love than beating the Assurance Company. 

Before he went away Mrs. Lincoln inquired after Charlie, 
especially as to whether he was taking more kindly to the law. 

" Oh, he does his best, and makes himself useful — after a 
fashion ; but he is not clever, Mrs. Lincoln, and I fear will 
never make a lawyer." 

Although this observation, and the manner of it, which 
was flippant and almost contemptuous, vexed Olive, she 
could not disguise from herself that there was much truth in 
Edward's opinion of his brother's character, and she regretted 
more than ever that destiny had made Charlie a second-rate 
lawyer instead of a hero, or a poet, or something equally dis- 



i8o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

tinguished. A few daj'S later the lovers met at the old tryst- 
ing-place for the last time. On the morrow she and her 
mother were leaving All Hallows, probably never to return, for 
even though Edward's proposed compromise were accepted 
without serious modification there was grave reason to doubt 
whether Mrs. Lincoln's future income would enable her to 
keep the place up. The unliquidated costs of the suit were 
sure to be heavy, and nobody could tell how much the assets 
of the defunct firm were likely to realize. 

No wonder, therefore, that the lovers were not in the best 
of spirits. Charlie was the more melancholy of the two. Ed- 
ward's success in the matter of the chancery suit had kindled 
his natural arrogance, and he was again making things un- 
pleasant at the office. Home was not what it had been. His 
father's death had worsened his mother's temper ; she kept 
her younger son at a distance, and, as it would seem, gave 
all her confidence to Edward, and Edward affected to treat 
him as a boy. This was quite bad enough ; and now Olive 
was going away. Correspondence with her would be diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, and he could only hope to see her at 
long intervals. 

Olive tried to cheer him. 

" We are not going to the end of the world, you foolish 
boy," she said, smiling. " Whitebeach is only fifty miles 
away," 

" What does it matter where you are if I cannot see you ? " 
asked Charlie moodily. 

" Oh, but you can see me. You must come to White- 
beach." 

" All very fine ; but what would mother say — and Ned ? " 

" You must have an excuse, of course, and I think you will 
have one. I am almost sure my mother will ask you to be 
one of her trustees, along with Edward. You will, won't 
you ? " 

" Certainly. I would do anything in the world to oblige 
her and please you, darling." 

" Take care what you say. I shall, perhaps, be putting 
you to the test one of these days." 

" I wish you would — any test you like. I shall, of course, 
be glad to act as one of your mother's trustees, but I don't 
quite see how that will afford me a pretext for visiting you 
at Whitebeach." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. l8l 

" You could come to her to talk about business, you know." 

" I cannot imagine what there would be to talk about — 
unless you put her up to ask me to bring her dividends now 
and then." 

" Well, I shall see whether I cannot. I shall have to mind 
what I am about, though. But you are all to be invited to 
spend a few days with us at Whitsuntide ; and your mother 
has asked me to visit her at Holmcroft. Oh, we shall have 
opportunities, and I shall write to you occasionally, though 
you must on no account write to me. Mother is so very curi- 
ous about letters. And when the chancery suit is gone to 
the bourne from which no traveller returns, which I hope 
will be soon, and mother can think about other things, we 
will tell her all. So keep up your courage, Charlie dear. 
You said just now you would do anything to please me. Do 
that ; be of good cheer ; it will please me immensely." 

" God bless you, Olive, you are the best and dearest girl in 
the world." 

"Of course I am — but that is no reason why — see how you 
have upset my hair. And now I must really run away. We 
shall meet again at Whitsuntide ; and you shall hear from me 
in the meantime. Good-night." 

And then they parted, and rather to his surprise Charlie 
went away in better heart than he had come — the outlook 
was not so bad as he had thought it, after all. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XXIIl. 

TRIED AND FOUND WANTING. 

Some two months after the Lincolns left Peele Edward 
received a letter from his client to the effect that Mr. Marsh 
being still on the Continent and the time of his return uncer- 
tain she had decided not to trouble him in the matter of the 
trusteeship. She was writing to Charlie, asking him to be 
good enough to accept the appointment, and in the event of 
his acceding to her request (as to which she made no doubt) 
Edward would perhaps kindly prepare the necessary deed, 
and they could all sign it when the brothers and Mrs. Prince 
came to Whitebeach at Whitsuntide. 

" Charlie will accept, of course, and a good thing, a very 
good thing. Plis appointment will make us safe in any event," 
thought Edward to himself : and he felt much as a general 
would feel who on the eve of battle was told that an impor- 
tant pass in his rear had been occupied by a detachment of 
his own troops. For as the day of the trial drew near Edward 
grew less confident. He protested to himself and everybody 
else that they were sure to win ; but the possibility of failure 
was undeniable, and followed by the appointment of Mr. 
Marsh would have spelt ruin. 

He hinted as much to his mother, when he told her of 
Mrs. Lincoln's proposal, to appoint Charlie, saying what a 
good thing it was and how much it had eased his mind. 

Mrs. Prince looked as if she did not quite understand 
him. 

" I am glad Mrs. Lincoln wishes to appoint your brother," 
she said. " It is a compliment to him and the family. Still, 

I don't quite see You are surely not in any doubt as to the 

result of the trial." 

" I think we shall win, of course : but everything is possible, 
and there is always the glorious uncertainty, you know." 

" Don't talk to me in that way. I knov; nothing of the sort, 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 183 

in this case," returned Mrs. Prince, severely, almost angrily, 
indeed. " I refuse to admit the possibility which you sug- 
gest. And if — if the verdict were to go against us, I think I 
should doubt the goodness of God." 

Edward, dreading a scene, said no more. Besides, it was 
obviously impossible to reason with a woman who flatly 
refused to consider a certain contingency because its occur- 
rence would conflict with her ideas of the divine goodness. 

Charlie, whom Olive had already apprised of her mother's 
decision, wrote to Mrs. Lincoln by return post, saying how 
glad he should be to accept the appointment ; and Edward, 
writing at the same time, expressed his sense of the honor 
conierred upon them, and assured her that he and his brother 
would use their best endeavors to justify her confidence. 

The trial came off the following week, in the Court of 
Queen's Bench. It was marked by no sensational incidents, 
nor, save at Peele, did it excite any particular interest. 
There was no dispute as to the facts ; for nobody doubted 
that Leonard Prince had died from the effect of a snake-bite 
on the coast of Venezuela ; and in order to avoid the expense 
of bringing witnesses from Port-of-Spain, or sending thither 
a commission, the solicitors concerned had agreed to accept, 
as evidence, the account of the occurrence given by the 
Trinidad papers, and confirmed by private correspondents. 

Sergeant Somers and a junior appeared for the plaintiffs, 
the Attorney-General and a junior for the defendants. 

The sergeant, who was a fluent and powerful speaker, 
carried the v/ar into the enemy's camp with great vigor, stig- 
matizing the Assurance Company's refusal to pay the amount 
for which Mr. Prince had insured his life as a mean evasion 
of a solemn obligation, and contending at considerable length 
that the deceased had not broken his contract by going ashore 
at Chachacara Bay. The license for a limited sojourn in 
Trinidad, a license for which he had paid an extra premium, 
surely carried with it the privilege of doing what ordinary 
inhabitants of the island were in the habit of doing. A cruise 
in the Bay of Paria was an ordinary incident of Trinidadian 
life ; the landing and the result of an accident, for which Mr. 
Prince could no more be held responsible than for inadver- 
tently treading on the water mocassin that caused his death. 
He disembarked because, in the captain's opinion, he would 
be safer ashore than aboard. \\\ this he exercised a wise 



1 84 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

discretion, and the learned counsel felt quite sure that in 
analogous circumstances any of the "gentlemen of the jury" 
v/ould have done the same. 

Se/ge?"\t Somers concluded with an eloquent appeal to the 
jury to give his clients the benefit of any doubt they might 
entertain — if, contrary to his belief and expectation, they 
should entertain any doubt — as to the right of the widow and 
children to receive the sum for which the late Mr. Prince had 
assured his life, and for which he had honestly and regularly 
paid the stipulated consideration. 

When Sergeant Somers sat down, the Attorney-General got 
up, and as in duty bound made very light of his adversary's 
arguments, even going so far as to protest that the plaintiffs 
had no case. A great company like the ^gis, he said, never 
disputed a claim unless it were flagrantly and obviously 
unjust, as in the present instance. But if they were to admit 
this claim, they might as well make all their policies absolute 
at once, and let their policy-holders live where they liked, 
even in the most pestiferous parts of the earth. The license 
was expressly for a voyage to and from Trinidad, and the 
perils incident thereto. It included a residence in the island 
for a limited time, and, of course, all that " residence " in the 
ordinary acceptation of the word fairly implied. His clients 
had no wish to construe this condition in any narrow sense. 
If Mr. Prince had lost his life while voyaging in Trinidadian 
waters they should have paid the sum for which it was 
assured without demur. But the Attorney-General called the 
particular attention of the jury to the fact that the license 
did not cover the perils incident to a voyage in Venezuelan 
waters, and a landing, voluntary or involuntary, on the 
Venezuelan coast. 

If it were competent for Mr. Prince under his license to go 
to one part of Venezuela it was competent for him to go to 
all parts, and some parts of that country were amongst the 
most unhealthy in the world. 

This would be practically converting a conditional license 
into an all-world policy, and the correspondence between the 
Secretary and Mr. Edward Prince (which he proceeded to 
read) showed that the company's oft'er to make it an all- 
world policy on very moderate terms was distinctly declined. 
In taking this course Mr. Edward Prince had clearly made 
a grievous mistake ; he had been penny wise and pound 



THE riUNCES OF PEELE. 185 

foolish, but it would be hard indeed to visit on the company 
the unwisdom of a policy-holder. If there were any element 
of doubt in the case, he, the learned counsel, would be the 
first to urge the jury to give the plaintiffs the benefit of it ; 
but there was none, not a scintilla, and he besought the jury, 
as men of business and the world, to render a verdict in 
accordance with the principles of equity and the dictates of 
common-sense. 

The judge's summing up was decidedly in favor of the 
defendants. He cautioned the jury not to let their natural 
feeling for Mrs. Prince and her sons, and the common preju- 
dice against wealthy corporations, either warp their judgments 
or influence their verdict. All they had to do was to construe 
a contract as set forth on the policy on Mr. Prince's life, and 
the license for the voyage to Trinidad ; both of v/hich he read 
and commented upon in some detail. If the jury were of 
opinion that a license for a voyage to Trinidad and the perils 
incident thereto included a voyage to Venezuela and its 
incidental dangers, they would give a verdict for the plaintiffs, 
if not, their verdict would be for the defendants. 

After a short deliberation the foreman of the jury informed 
the Judge that they had found for the defendants. 

" It was your refusal to make the policy ' all-world,' that 
did the mischief," whispered Sergeant Somers to Edward 
Prince. " In the face of that, I really don't see how they 
could have come to any other conclusion." 

The Attorney-General, who had been conferring with the 
company's Solicitor and Secretary, asked and obtained per- 
mission to make a statement before the jury separated. The 
directors had instructed him to say that, in the event of the 
verdict being in their favor, they would not ask for their 
costs, and he, on his part, should advise them to pay to Mr. 
Prince's executors the surrender value of his interest in the 
policy at the time he went abroad, either in cash, or in the 
shape of a reduced premium, should the sons decide to con- 
tinue the policy on their joint lives." 

" Very liberal, very liberal indeed," observed the judge ; 
and murmurs of approval were heard in the jury box and 
echoed in the bar. 

"That's two for themselves and one for you," observed 
Sergeant Somers to his client. " It would be a shame if they 
kept all those premiums and gave nothing in return. They 



1 86 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

could not do less, and this public announcement of their 
liberality will get into the papers and be a splendid adver- 
tisement for them." 

Edward made some sort of a reply — he hardly knew what 
— and the sergeant, seeing that his client was indisposed for 
conversation, said no more — to his client's great relief. For 
Edward was terribly disappointed. He had hoped against 
hope, and to the very last believed that they should win. 
Now, the scales were fallen from his eyes, and he saw that he 
had been living in a fool's paradise from the first — worse 
still, that public opinion at Peele would hold him responsible 
for the result. People would say that to save a hundred and 
fifty pounds he had thrown away fifteen thousand. 

The Attorney-General's taunt cut him to the quick. It 
wounded him in his most sensitive part — his self-esteem — he 
felt the imputation all the more keenly that it was entirely 
undeserved, and he could not resent it as publicly as it vv'as 
made. He had not made a mistake. He had acted on 
sound business principles. The veriest fool could be wise 
after the event. What would have been the good of making 
the policy " all-world " when his father proposed to go only 
to Trinidad ? The fault was his father's. But for his father's 
fatal indiscretion, all would have been well. Unfortunately, 
however, this was a line of defence he could not undertake 
without incurring the reproach of disrespect for his father's 
memory : and at Peele respect for that memory was an article 
of faith. 

" Well, I must just grin and bear it — and alone, too," he 
thought bitterly. " Mother is very trying — she won't listen 
to reason — and Charlie is as happy as the day is long, con- 
found him. However, that is nearly over. When he learns 
the secret and executes the deed of appointment his immu- 
nity will cease. We shall both be in the same boat then, and 
he will have to do as he is told. But what is to be done next .'' 
That is the question." 

To which question Edward promptly addressed himself, 
and, being a man of energy and resource, was not long in 
deciding on a plan of action. When he had done thinking 
he wrote to his mother apprising her of the result of the 
trial, which he ascribed to the one-sided and almost malig- 
nant summing up of the judge. Yet though it was a terrible 
misfortune, he implored her not to be cast down. The secret 



THE PRIiVCES OF PEELE. 



1S7 



was still intact, there was not the least reason to fear expos- 
ure, and he had thought of a scheme which would enable 
them to meet the difficulty arising out of the loss of the insur- 
ance money. Of this he should give her full particulars on 
his return ; business of importance would keep him in London 
another day. He wrote in the same sense to his brother, 
omitting, however, any reference to the secret and the 
scheme. 

Edward's object in remaining in town was to avoid break- 
ing the bad news to his mother in person. He thought that 
by the time he got home she would have recovered somewhat 
from the shock, and spare him the reproaches in which she 
might otherwise have indulged. 

In this he was not disappointed. He found his mother look- 
ing pale and stern indeed*; and the dark circles round her 
eyes told of a sleepless night, but she was quite composed, 
and, as it might seem, in a reasonable frame of mind. 

"What is your plan ? " she asked abruptly. " I want to 
know nothing more of this iniquitous trial. Let us not talk 
about it — your plan .' " 

Edward's plan was to surrender the policy out and out 
and get all they could from the company. There was no 
object to be gained by keeping up the policy on Charlie's 
life and his own. They were both young and likely to sur- 
vive Mrs. Lincoln, and the payment of the premiums was a 
heavy drain. He had seen Mr. Cutter, and the company 
were disposed to deal fairly with them. The full surrender 
value, reckoned on a liberal scale, would probably amount to 
fifteen hundred or two thousand pounds. As to this, he 
should hear further from the Secretary in the course of a 
few days. 

The sum recovered from the company would form the 
nucleus of a fund for the liquidation of the liability to Mrs. 
Lincoln's trust. Meanwhile, the money could be used for 
temporary advances to clients at a high rate of interest, 
thereby bringing grist to the mill both directly and indi- 
rectly. Edward had also a plan for notably increasing the 
profits of the office, and he thought, by limiting their draw- 
ings and living carefully, they might wipe off the debt in 
seven or eight years. In all probability an over sanguine 
estimate ; but besides being as ignorant of figures as women 
generally are, Mrs. Prince was just then too anxious to be 
critical. 



1 88 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Thank God ! It is not so bad as I feared," she said with 
a sigh of relief, and the care-worn face lost some of its 
gloom. 

" How clever you are, dear ! I like your plan ; it seems so 
practical. We must all economize. I think I can keep 
house on my marriage settlement and the five hundred a 
year ; so that you and Charlie will only need to take from the 
business what you require for your personal expenses. In 
seven years, you say ? " 

" Seven or eight — with ordinary luck." 

** Of course. And as Charlie is to be your co-trustee, 
nobody will know anything — the secret will be kept in the 
family." 

" Exactly. And if I happen to be ill or away from home 
when Mrs. Lincoln's dividends fall due Charlie can do what 
is necessary." 

" You will tell him then ? " 

" Of course. There is nothing else for it, he is my partner. 
Without his consent I can neither surrender the policv nor 
go on paying Mrs. Lincoln her interest." 

" Poor boy ! I would have spared him a little longer," 
murmured Mrs. Prince sadly. " It is a terrible weight to 
lay on his young shoulders, Edward." 

" Well, they are pretty strong shoulders ; and it is quite 
time for him to learn the family secret and help in carrying 
the family burden," returned Edward. 

" The family secret," said Mrs. Prince with a slight shud- 
der, and in a low, intense voice. " Do you know, dear, I 
sometimes think it has been the family curse ? But for it 
your father would never have gone to the West Indies. See 
what trouble it has caused you ! It has lain on my mind 
like lead all these years — and now Charlie — yet we acted for 
the best. It was impossible to let Jack be prosecuted. The 
disgrace would have been more than I could bear, and utterly 
ruined your prospects. We should have had to leave Peele. 
I would do the same again, Edward. When shall you tell 
Charles ? " 

" Let me see ! We go to Whitebeach next Friday. I will 
tell him the day before." 

'' Poor boy ! Break it as gently as you can. It will be a 
great shock to him, and a heavy burden afterwards. He is 
very like his father, sensitive on the point of honor." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 189 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

A FAMILY DIFFERENCE. 

On the following Thursday the brothers were in the room 
at Holmcroft, once their father's, where they wrote and 
smoked, kept their fishing-tackle and fowling-pieces, and 
used generally as a bachelors' den. They had just dined ; 
their mother was in the drawing-room. Both were smoking 
Ned a cigarette, Charlie a briar-root pipe. 

Charlie, looking forward to seeing Olive on the morrow, 
was in high spirits, all the more so as Ned, owing to an un- 
expected demand for his presence at some committee meet- 
ing (he had succeeded to all his father's appointments) could 
not leave for Whitebeach before Saturday. Wherefore, 
Charlie, as he hoped and confidently believed, would have 
his sweetheart pretty nearly all to himself for the greater 
part of two days. 

But Edward, vexed at having to stay behind, and surmis- 
ing the cause of his brother's brightness, was in an evil 
temper, and his thoughts were not pleasant. 

"You have got the deed of appointment, I suppose ? " he 
said, d, propos of nothing in particular. 

" It is in my bag." 

" Mrs. Lincoln knows you will accept ? " 

" Of course. Didn't we both write to her ? " 

" Well, as you are to be my co-trustee — I have something 
to tell you, Charlie — something very important." 

" All right, old man. Go ahead ! " 

" Pray be serious. It is no laughing matter, I assure you." 

" I was not laughing." 

" At any rate, you smiled." 

" How long has it been a sin to smile ? I smiled because 
you looked so glum." 

" I look glum, do I ? So would you — what I have to tell 
you is something in which you, like mother and myself, are 
deeply concerned. It is a family secret, long kept back from 



190 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



you, first by father's wish, since by mother's, for your own 
good ; but things have happened which render it imperative 
that you should be told." 

" Go on, I am all attention," said Charlie, sobering down 
and looking serious. 

" Before I go on I must ask you not to reveal or hint to 
anybody, directly or indirectly, what I am about to tell you." 

" As it is a family secret, that goes without saying. I give 
you my word to keep it inviolate.'' 

" Well, it concerns Mrs. Lincoln's trust. There is nothing 
in it." 

" Nothing in it ! What do you mean ? " 

" Money. There is no money in it." 

Charlie looked quite bewildered. 

" But — why — how ? " he stammered. " Mrs. Lincoln's 
money is in Consols, and she gets her dividends regularly. I 
have seen the receipts. You are chaffing, after all." 

" Chaffing ! This is too serious a matter for chaff, Charlie. 
I tell you Mrs. Lincoln's settled fortune is non-existent. It 
is gone — vanished — though Mrs. Lincoln does not know it." 

" Gone ! How t " 

" Father sold out the stock and used the proceeds to square 
those Liverpool people, when Jack robbed them and ran 
away." 

" But that was — a breach of trust," exclaimed Charlie, 
aghast. 

" Of course it was, but it was either that or letting Jack be 
prosecuted for embezzlement and forgery — to the tune of 
nearly twenty thousand pounds — which would have meant 
penal servitude for him and a fearful disgrace for the family. 
We should have had to leave Peele. Not that I approve of 
what father did. I would have let Jack hang before I would 
have used trust money, and saddled myself with that huge 
liability, and risked unspeakable consequences. I did not 
know of it till afterwards." 

The young fellow bowed his head, and his heart sank 
within him. His idol was overthrown. The father whom 
he had so deeply loved and revered, whom he had always 
regarded as a model and exemplar of every manly and 
Christian virtue, that father had committed an act of delib- 
erate dishonesty and violated the trust reposed in him by a 
friend, and that friend a woman. And then, remembering 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



191 



his essentially noble nature and high sense of honor, and 
that memorable conversation on the way to Southampton, he 
realized how intensely his father must have suffered, how 
terrible had been the temptation to which he yielded, and 
pitied him with all his soul. His poor father ! 

" It was to provide for restitution of the trust fund that 
father insured his life," observed Edward, after a long pause, 
which Charlie did not seem disposed to terminate. '* The 
trial was a terrible blow. I really durst not face mother with 
the news. That was why I stayed in London another day. 
But she bears up bravely, much better than I expected." 

" My God ! What shall we do, then >. We have not fifteen 
thousand pounds." 

" Nor anything like it. We must keep it quiet, go on as 
we have been doing, and wipe off the debt as best we can." 

And then Edward explained his plan, and showed Charlie 
the calculations on which it was based. 

" I told mother we could pay it in seven or eight years — 
that was to keep her quiet, she worries so — but if we can do 
it in nine or ten, without crippling ourselves overmuch, I 
shall be very glad." 

" And meanwhile ? " 

" Meanwhile ? " repeated Edward snappishly. " Don't you 
see .-• Didn't I say that we must go on as usual, pay Mrs. 
Lincoln her dividends as they fall due, and keep our own 
counsel ? " 

** And execute the deed of appointment, and make believe 
that the principal sum is intact and invested in Government 
stock.?" 

" Exactly. I think, though, you might have put it a little 
less bluntly." 

" Well, you may do as you please, but as for me, I .shall not 
be a party to the — deed." 

" The devil you won't ! " 

" I shall not accept the appointment unless Mrs. Lincoln 
is first informed of the facts. She is a good woman ; she 
won't be hard, she will give us time." 

" Oh, this is the most infernal nonsense I ever heard," ex- 
claimed Edward, impatiently. " What has Mrs. Lincoln's 
goodness to do with it } You cannot bind her to secrecy ; 
indeed, I doubt whether she can keep a secret. She would 
tell tAvo or three other women — in strict confidence — and it 



192 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

would be all over Peele in a week. Besides, I told her dis- 
tinctly that her money was still in the ' three per cents.' — I 
could not help it, she asked me — and mother would rather die 
than give her consent." 

" All the same, Ned — No, the deception would be too gross. 
I will do anything in reason, but put my name to a statement 
which I know to be untrue ! That I cannot do, to please 
anybody." 

Edward was getting very angry. His brother's refusal to 
accept the trusteeship was the last thing he expected. 

" So that is the line you take, eh t " he said, sneeringly. 
" You have a higher sense of honor than the rest of the family, 
and yet you won't stretch a point to save the family from dis- 
grace. I suppose you think I am quite capable either of tell- 
ing a lie or signing a false statement .-' " 

" And if I do think so I only judge you out of your own 
mouth," returned Charlie whose temper his brother's inso- 
lence had thoroughly roused. " Didn't }'ou say just now you 
had told Mrs. Lincoln that her fortune was still in the three 
per cents .'' What do you call that .-" " 

Edward now almost beside himself, sprang to his feet. " If 
we weren't brothers you should smart for this," he exclaimed 
fiercely. 

" What do you mean ? " asked Charlie, also rising. 

" What do I mean ? I mean that I should thrash you." 

" You couldn't, Ned. I am stronger than you, and you 
were never much of a fighter." Though excited and angry, 
Charlie was much cooler than his senior. " But we are 
brothers, and it is wicked to quarrel in this way." 

" Why did you insult me, then .-* " 

" Why did you t " 

At this point the door opened, and Mrs. Prince came in. 

" Haven't you done smoking ?" she began, and then seeing 
that something was wrong, stopped short. " Why — what — 
you are standing up ; you both look pale and angry," she 
went on. " Surely you have not been quarrelling "i How 
was it ? What is it about .'' " 

" Ask Charlie," said Edward. 

" Ask Ned," said Charlie. 

" You are the elder, Edward ; I ask you." 

" I told him about that — as we agreed — and now he won't 
accept the appointment, and refuses to sign the deed." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



193 



Mrs. Prince's countenance darkened. 

" Is this so, Charlie ? " she demanded sternly. 

" I don't think it would be right, mother — unless Mrs. Lin- 
coln is told." 

" Tell Mrs. Lincoln ! " exclaimed Mrs. Prince, aghast ; 
" tell Mrs. Lincoln ! Are you mad, boy 1 Do you know ? " 

" I know. Ned has told me everything. Let us do 
the right thing, mother. We shall never have a better chance. 
Jack is far away, poor father gone — forever. We can explain 
to Mrs. Lincoln how, but for the loss of the trial, which is 
no fault of ours, the money, used under the stress of a great 
emergency, would have been restored ; and proposes to make 
it good by instalments, as Ned says — of course paying the 
interest regularly in the meantime. I am sure she will agree 
and think all the better of us for our honesty and frankness 
and keep our secret. And think what a weight it would be 
off your mind, mother ! " 

Mrs. Prince seemed to hesitate. Charlie's appeal had 
evidently made an impression. 

" What do you think, Edward ? " she said, turning to her 
elder son. 

If his mother had been simply a client and himself disin- 
terested Edward would doubtless have urged her to follow 
Charlie's advice. But he had told Mrs. Lincoln that her 
fortune was intact ; and the disclosure must needs lower him 
in that lady's estimation — and Olive's, and exalt his brother, 
who would shine as the only immaculate member of the 
family. Anything were better than that. 

" I cannot agree with Charlie ; I wish I could," he said 
earnestly, and in his usual self-contained manner. " It would 
simplify matters immensely, as he says, and take a great 
weight off your mind— and mine. But how do we know that 
Mrs. Lincoln would undertake to keep the matter secret, and 
whether, though she did, she could ? In her annoyance— 
and she is sure to be more or less annoyed — she might let out 
whatever we confide to her — and we shall have to tell every- 
thing. There can be no half confidence. And as for giving 
us time to pay up — isn't it at least on the cards — in my opinion 
it is almost certain that Mrs. Lincoln would change her 
mind about appointing Charlie and me ? And whomsoever 
else she might appoint would be in duty bound to enforce 
immediate restitution of the trust fund by all the means in 

13 



194 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



their power. Unless I am mistaken, mother, you and I as 
father's executors, could be made personally responsible ; the 
office would be broken up ; I should lose my appointments, and 
if the new trustees were hostile — which is quite possible — the 
estate might have to be wound up in bankruptcy also." 

" That is quite enough, Edward," cried Mrs. Prince, 
appalled by this catalogue of contingent calamities, " you 
need say no more. Mrs. Lincoln must not be told, and you 
must accept the trusteeship, Charles." 

" I cannot, mother. I don't presume to judge you ; but 
from my point of view it would not be right." 

" Would it be right to besmirch your father's name and 
drag Edward and me into the Bankruptcy Court ? That is 
the alternative. It cannot be wrong to obey your mother, 
and I ask you to do this for my sake, if not for your own. 
I will take the responsibility." 

It was hard to withstand his mother, but the young fellow, 
recalling his father's parting counsel, given, as it might 
appear, in view of the very eventuality which was now come 
to pass, repeated his refusal. 

" I am very sorry ; you distress me beyond measure, but I 
cannot, I really cannot. I would rather lose my right hand 
than sign that deed without telling Mrs. Lincoln." 

" Oh, Charlie, do you want to break my heart ? " and with 
that Mrs. Prince threw her arms around his neck and laying 
her head on his shoulder fell a-weeping. 

No wonder Charlie wavered and showed hesitation, which 
his mother quickly perceiving redoubled her efforts, not 
commanding, but entreating and beseeching. 

" My dear boy, my own Charlie, don't be so hard. Your 
acceptance of the trusteeship is the only way of preventing 
disaster and disgrace. I am getting into years, these troubles 
are telling on me. I should die, Charlie, and oh, to think of 
it, you would be the cause." 

Charlie kissed his mother tenderly ; and it was evident 
that, for the moment at least, he was silenced, if not van- 
quished. 

" It is all right ; he will do as you wish," interposed 
Edward. " He would not let me dictate to him just now, 
and quite right, too. I lost my temper. I am sorry if I hurt 
you, old fellow, but we will say no more about it, and let 
bygones be bygones. Com.e, I v, ill take you to your room, 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



195 



mother. You must lie down, or you will have a headache 
after all this excitement." 

" Let bygones be bygones ! " murmured Charlie bitterly, 
when they were gone. " Does he mean it, I wonder ? If he had 
not frightened mother with his exaggerations she would have 
agreed to my proposal. Oh, why didn't I stand to my guns "i 
They may say what they like, but it would be an infamy to 
sign that deed and keep Mrs. Lincoln in the dark." 

Again Charlie recalled his father's words almost the last 
he had heard from his lips : " If you have any doubt, give con- 
science the benefit of it. , . . You will be glad afterwards, 
for you w'ill have nothing to reproach yourself with, and right 
can never be wrong, nor wrong right." 

" Which is it to be ? " he asked himself. " Shall I obey 
my father and do right, or my mother and do wrong ? " 

" I had no idea Charlie would prove so restive and stubborn. 
He has always been so easy-tempered and obedient," observed 
Mrs. Prince to her elder son as they passed to her room. 

" Well, he surprised me, but it was a good deal my own 
fault. I was out of temper and rubbed him the wrong way. 
I suppose that got his back up. It was well you tried 
entreaty. I tried the other thing and it did not answer." 

" Yet he did not say he would sign the deed, after all." 

" He did not say he would not, and that comes to the same 
thing. Silence gives consent. Take for granted that he will 
and say no more. And when you come to think about it, he 
has no alternative. He has promised Mrs. Lincoln to accept 
the trust and given me his word not to split. You need not 
worry, mother ; he will sign fast enough when it comes to the 
point." 



196 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

"at whitebeac h." 

When Charlie considered the alternative of compliance 
with his mother's wish he saw, as Edward had seen, the 
difhculty of his position. He was between the devil and the 
deep sea. To sign the deed would be to make himself par- 
ticipator in a fraud, a fraud that, in view of his present and 
prospective relations with the Lincolns, would be doubly- 
infamous, which, were it to come to Olive's knowledge, she 
never would pardon. On the other hand, refusal would 
embroil him with ever3'body. His mother and brother would 
overwhelm him with reproaches ; Mrs. Lincoln would be 
deeply and justly offended, and Olive unappeasable. It was 
her pet scheme, a scheme on which she had set her heart, and 
of which he himself had warmly approved. 

How could he get out of it '^. What excuse could he offer ? 
That he was too young, that the responsibility would be too 
great for him, that it was inexpedient for brothers to be 
trustees under the same settlement ? None of these pretexts 
would hold water, and if made would simply be laughed out 
of court. 

He could not even think of a plausible, harmless lie, and if 
he did take to lying he might as well sign the deed and have 
done with it. That would clearly be the simplest course and 
by far the easiest,— if he could forget honor and honesty, 
his father's sage advice and his duty to Olive and her mother. 

These thoughts kept Charlie awake the greater part of the 
night, and morning found him still halting between two 
opinions, still wandering in a maze of perplexity and indecision. 

When he met his mother at breakfast no reference was 
made to the scene of the night before. Mrs. Prince, who 
since her husband's death had been subject to fits of despond- 
ency, was unusually cheerful. Edward urbane and in good 
spirits. He had received a letter from the ^gis people to 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 197 

the effect that they were prepared to pay two thousand pounds 
for the surrender of the hfe poUcy. This was more than its 
actuarial value, but for reasons which would readily suggest 
themselves they were desirous to offer the most liberal terms 
in their power. 

" I suppose you will accept ? " said Mrs. Prince. 

" Of course. I shall write and say so at once, though as 
we are going away the transaction cannot be completed until 
offer the holidays." 

Later in the day Edward had a characteristically happy 
thought. It occurred to him that he might as well try to get 
a little more. So he wrote a polite letter to the company, 
thanking them for their offer, which he and his brother were 
disposed to accept. He would communicate with them 
further after the holidays. Meanwhile, he put it to the 
company whether, considering the heavy sums which the late 
Mr. Prince had paid in premiums, and the unfortunate 
circumstances of his death, it would not be a graceful act on 
their part to meet all the costs of the recent suit. 

This drew a prompt and curt reply from the Secretary, to 
the effect that his directors declined to modify in any sense 
the terms which they had proposed, and unless these were 
formally accepted and the policy surrendered in the course 
of the ensuing week the offer would be withdrawn and not 
repeated. 

The Secretary's letter followed Edward Prince to White- 
beach, and was answered a few days later in a way which 
took the first-named gentleman's breath away and gave his 
directors a bad quarter of an hour. 

Five-and-thirty years ago Whitebeach had not begun to be 
popular ; it was neither infested by cheap trippers nor patro- 
nized by people of fashion. The village consisted of a post- 
office, an inn with an ivy-covered porch, and a dozen fisher- 
men's and laborers' cottages with thatched roofs. The 
parish possessed, further, three or four farmhouses, and half- 
a-dozen or so of a better sort occupied by people who pre- 
ferred the rural charms of \Miitebeach to the rampant row- 
dyism of Ramsgate or the ostentatious vulgarity of Brighton. 
There were neither donkey-boys nor bathing-vans, and trains 
were so few and far between that the station-master had time 
to cultivate roses, and his garden was one of the sights of the 
place. 



igS THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

When the Princes arrived at Whitebeach station, they were 
greeted, rather to their surprise, by Mrs. Lincoln and her 
daughter. 

" So kind of you to meet us," said Mrs. Prince, as she ex- 
changed kisses with her hostess. 

" So good of you to come," murmured Charlie as he shook 
hands with Olive. 

" We are so quiet here that the arrival of visitors is an 
event of which we naturally make the most," said Mrs. Lin- 
coln. " Sometimes we come down merely to see who is com- 
ing or going. The phaeton is outside. We can either drive 
round by the road or go by the footpath, an easy walk of a 
mile or so." 

" The footpath, by all means, I feel quite cramped with 
sitting so long," returned Mrs. Prince. 

Charlie also elected for the footpath, the bags and rugs 
were deposited in the phaeton and the Lincolns and their 
guests climbed a rustic stile by the roadside and took to the 
fields. The day was perfect, the way delightful — now pass- 
ing over a daisy-pied meadow, now through a field of waving 
corn, anon dipping into a glade, where a gurgling stream, 
crossed by a moss-grown bridge, flowed gently between the 
entwined boughs of overhanging trees. Larks were carolling 
in the sun, swift-winged swallows chasing in graceful fiight 
their tiny prey ; and a quiet sea breeze wafted inland the 
odor of pine woods and the perfume of flowers. 

Albeit still preoccupied and perplexed, Charlie Prince 
could not be insensible to the subtle mfluence of these sights 
and sounds, so propitious to enjoyment and love. The 
brightness of the day, the beauty of the landscape, and the 
presence of his sweetheart were not long in conjuring away 
his cares. Before they were over the first field he had be- 
come talkative and gay. 

For prudential reasons the lovers made no attempt to 
" pair off," and in obedience to a whispered hint from Olive 
the young fellow devoted himself more assiduously to the 
elder ladies than to INIiss Lincoln. He was especially atten- 
tive to her mother, she to his ; and though two of the party 
were burdened with a portentous secret all seemed to be in 
high spirits and unapprehensive of impending trouble. 

" There ! That is our house, or rather the house we Xwo. 
in," said Mrs. Lincoln, as they emerged from a clump of 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



'99 



trees which for the last few minutes had obscured the 
view. 

" And you call it? " asked Mrs. Prince. 

" The Pines." 

A red brick house with a tiled roof, mellowed with age, 
many-gabled, and built on a hillside. Above it, terraced 
gardens and shrubberies, and, higher still, a dark pine wood. 
A little to the left a break in the cliffs and an almost land- 
locked cove, with fishing boats drawn up on the beach, and a 
small yacht riding at anchor. 

" How lovely ! " exclaimed Mrs. Prince with effusion. 
" Edward said Whitebeach was nice, but I had no idea it was 
so charming as this." 

" Oh, yes, it is very nice and lovely, also lonely, not to say 
dull," observed Mrs. Lincoln dryly. " For my part, I like a 
little society. At present the place seems to be inhabited 
chiefly by women. Except the fisher folk and Mr. Oldbury, 
the Rector, we don't see a man in a blue moon. I am sorry 
Edward could not come with you. But he will be here to- 
morrow, you say ? " 

" Yes, and I hope early — if he can get away. He is de- 
tained by town's business, which he cannot possibly do by 
deputy — and he always puts business before pleasure." 

" And quite right, too. It is the way to get on. By-the- 
bye, I hope he has found time to prepare the deed of appoint- 
ment." 

" Oh dear, yes. Charlie has it in his bag. It can be 
signed to-morrow." 

" There is no hurry. It will do any time before the gentle- 
men go, and I hope they will stay as long as they can. As 
for you, Mrs. Prince, I shall keep you for a fortnight, at least 
— longer, if your sons can spare you." 

Mrs. Prince, whose cue it was to be " all things " to Mrs. 
Lincoln, smiled pleasantly and said she would be very glad — 
if her hostess could do with her. 

" Do with you," exclaimed Mrs. Lincoln. " I shall be 
grateful to you. Why, we are sometimes so dull that I have 
sometimes thought of advertising for a brace of rattles." 

Mrs. Prince turned pale. Rattles suggested burglars. 

" Rattles ! Yes, it is very lonely here, as you say. But I 
should think night catches and electric bells would be a 
better protection than rattles." 



200 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Bless you ! I didn't mean wooden rattles. I meant a 
brace of lively American girls who could go on talking till 
further orders, play and sing whenever they were asked, take 
a hand at whist, and make themselves generally useful and 
always agreeable." 

Whereupon everybody laughed, but Charlie's laugh was 
forced, and he felt sure it sounded hollow. The mention of 
the deed had sent his spirits down to zero again, and for a few 
minutes thereafter he was so sombre and silent that Olive 
asked him, as he helped her over a stile, what he was dream- 
ing about. 

" You," he whispered, and truly, for the question which 
most troubled him was what she would say when he told her 
(if he did tell her) that he must decline to become her mother's 
trustee. 

Olive, smiling archly, suggested that if thinking about her 
made him look so dismal he had better think about some- 
thing else, on which Charlie laughed, as in duty bound, and 
pulling himself together, made a not unsuccessful effort to 
look pleasant. 

When they reached the house luncheon was ready. The 
meal over, Mrs. Lincoln suggested that Mrs. Prince should lie 
down for a while, 

" I am sure you must be tired," she said; " and when you 
are rested we will go out for a drive. What will you do, 
Charlie?" 

" Explore." 

" You mean look round the place," added Mrs, Lincoln, 
after a moment's thought. " But you won't know How- 
ever, I dare say Olive will go with you — will you, Olive ? " 

" Certainly, mother." 

" You must not be long, though. I have ordered the 
carriage for three o'clock." 

Mrs. Lincoln did not make this proposal very heartily ; 
but hospitality has its duties ; she could not do the honors 
herself without missing her afternoon nap, and it was only 
for once in a way. Edward, when he came, would act as a 
check on Charlie's amatory hankerings, if he entertained any, 
and she was beginning to think that her apprehensions on this 
score had been groundless. 

After Olive had taken her lover through the greenhouses 
and round the garden, both behaving the while as discreetly 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 20I 

as if they were under their mothers' eyes, she piloted him by 
devious paths towards the pine wood, first bidding him mark 
well the way, so that he might find it another time unguided. 

" But why ? Where are we going ? " he asked. 

" You will see." 

Presently they reached a quickthorn hedge, dense, high, 
and apparently impenetrable ; but gliding behind a fir tree 
with wide-spreading boughs Olive slipped through an almost 
invisible gap, and Charlie, following, found himself in a broad 
walk, hemmed in between the hedge and a high wall, hidden 
under a century's growth of ivy, and carpeted with mossy turf. 
At one end of the walk was an arbor, at the other, a tiny 
pool, white with water-lilies. 

" Now we can talk," said Olive. 

Charlie put his arm round her waist and 

" I didn't mean that (laughing). However, nobody ever 
comes here but me. Mother does not know of it ; besides, 
she objects to climbing the hill. I did not find it out until 
we had been here a month, and then by accident. You have 
no idea how weirdly beautiful it looks by moonlight. But 
the gardeners — Mr. Marsh keeps the gardens up, you know — 
won't come near the place if they can help, especially after 
dark." 

" Why ? " 

"They wouldn't tell you if you asked them. They 
wouldn't tell me. So I got one of the maids to find out. 
They think it is haunted. They are superstitious, rustics 
generally are, I fancy, especially when they live near the sea, 
but I am not in the least, are you ? " 

" No ; but why should it be haunted ? " 

" Well, there are two stories ; one has it that, long ago, a 
former owner of the property hanged himself to one of the 
trees hereabout ; another, that he was drowned while boating 
off Thornby Point, for which cause his disembodied spirit is 
supposed to revisit the glimpses of the moon, and has been seen 
on this very spot within the last four years. At least, so they 
say. And what do you suppose they used to call this beauti- 
ful glade ? ' Dead Man's Walk ! ' Wasn't it too horrid 1 
Mais nous avons change tout cela." 

" What do they call it now ? " 

" What should you think ? The Fairies' Tryst. Are you an 
early riser, Charlie ? " 



2 02 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Well, not very, but I can be, you know. Why ? " 

" Because — early morning is the pleasantest part of the 
day at this time of the year. All is so fresh and bright, and 
the birds are singing and the rabbits hopping about, and that. 
I often come here about seven or eight. I daresay I shall be 
here to-morrow morning and on Monday." 

" I am sure I shall. I like to hear the birds sing and see 
the rabbits hop about, and all that." 

" Don't tease ; if you do you will only have the rabbits and 
the birds to keep you company. There are three or four 
ways of getting here, which is fortunate, for we must not be 
seen coming together or following each other. Didn't you 
observe that mother rather hesitated to let me show you round 
the garden ? Close to the pool is a door in the wall, open- 
ing into a path which brings you to the bottom of the carriage 
drive ; and behind the arbor is another path leading to the 
boathouse and the cove." 

" I shall go round by the cove." 

" Do. Then nobody can suspect, and on Monday morn- 
ing we might come another way. And now we must return, 
or we shall outstay our leave, and then mother would think — 
what we don't want her to think — at present." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



203 



CHAPTER XXVr. 

THE fairies' tryst. 

Charlie hesitated no longer. He would neither play the 
liypocrite with Olive nor deceive her mother by accepting a 
bogus trust. For the others, being already committed, there 
was some excuse ; for him, with his father's warning ringing 
in his ears, none. He was, moreover, absolutely certain, his 
brother to the contrary notwithstanding, that Mrs. Lincoln 
would both give them time and keep their secret ; and it 
might be that his refusal to sign the deed Vv^ould compel 
them to deal frankly with her. 

It would be very painful, of course — another scene with his 
mother, another quarrel with Ned — but nothing could be 
more painful than the agonies of doubt which he had lately 
endured, and anything were better than participating in an 
act of which he should never be able to think without shame 
and remorse. 

In the improbable event of Olive on the following day 
speaking of the trust, or referring to the deed, he would tell 
her all that he was at liberty to disclose — otherwise not until 
Monday morning. For her sake it was better to keep her in 
the bliss of ignorance so long as might be ; for his own, to 
put off the portentous communication to the last moment. 
After telling Olive he would announce his decision to Ned 
and his mother, and then — the deluge. 

The second meeting at the Fairies' Tr}^st went off as Charlie 
expected. Olive made no mention of the trust. Why should 
she ? She regarded the affair as settled ; the brothers had 
agreed to act, and they had only to execute the deed which 
Charlie had brought in his bag. After a delightful tete-a-tete 
the lovers returned to the house by different ways, and when 
he strode carelessly into the breakfast-room she was pouring 
out a cup of tea for his mother. 

He had been down at the Cove, he said ; Mrs. Lincoln 



2 04 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

hoped he enjoyed his walk, to which he answered that he 
had enjoyed himself immensely, and Olive from behind the 
tea urn gave him so roguish a glance that it was all he could 
do to keep his countenance. 

Late in the day Edward came, and he had so much to say, 
and the two matrons made so much of him, and Olive deemed 
it to be politic to be so civil to him (by way of lulling her 
mother's suspicions) that Charlie had to fall rather into the 
background, not unwillingly, for as the day wore on he 
thought more and more of the ordeal before him and its pos- 
sible issues, and wondered wistfully what the next forty-eight 
hours would bring forth. 

After Edward had been flattered and refreshed, there was 
a walk down to the cove and an inspection of Mr. Marsh's 
yawl, which he had placed at Mrs. Lincoln's disposal ; and 
at that lady's suggestion it was agreed that on Monday her 
daughter should go out for a sail, with Edward for captain 
and Charlie for crew. Both knew how to sail a boat, but the 
elder was supposed to be the more skilful sailor of the 
two. 

Sunday was spent in going to church, rambling in the 
grounds, and sauntering by the sea-shore. At night a little 
concert of sacred music, in which Edward who had a voice 
like a corn crake, was conceited enough to think that he dis- 
tinguished himself ; then, all to bed. To Charlie's relief, for 
there is nothing more fatiguing than trying to look happy 
when you feel miserable, and as the critical moment drew 
near his uneasiness increased. All day he had been op- 
pressed with gloomy forebodings, and for a long time wooed 
sleep in vain. Wakening at six and finding further sleep im- 
possible, he rose, donned his clothes, and going softly down- 
stairs slipped out by a side door. 

Now, it so fell out that Edward, happening at the same 
time to open his bedroom window, to let in the fresh morn- 
ing air, spied his brother wending down the avenue. 

This made Edward put on his considering cap. " What," 
he asked himself, " can be Charlie's object in rising so early ? 
At home he stops in bed till the last moment." And his 
naturally sharp wits being still further sharpened by curiosity 
and suspicion he was not long in coming to the conclusion 
that Charlie's object was Olive — that they had planned a ma- 
tutinal meeting, and he was on his way to the rendezvous. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 205 

" If I could only catch them ! '' muttered Edward between 
his set teeth. 

It was too late to see whither Charlie went ; but if he were 
right in his surmise Olive would presently be making her 
way in the same direction (Charlie would naturally start first) 
and her he might shadow. So Edward hastily dressed, 
keeping watch the while from his windows, which looked 
south and west respectively, and commanded several exits. 
After watching for nearly an hour he was rewarded for his 
diligence. Miss Lincoln, wearing a sun-bonnet and garden 
gloves, and armed with a light spud, crossed the lawn ; and, 
as it might appear, made straight for the pine wood. Three 
minutes later Edward was on her track, at a respectable 
distance, however, and dodging behind shrubs and bushes 
to avoid being seen. 

After a short, albeit exciting, chase, he reached the quick- 
thorn hedge ; and there the pursuit ended, for though he could 
have sworn that Olive was not a score of yards ahead of him, 
and he had caught a glimpse of her gown only a moment 
previously, he was completely baffled. The quarry had 
vanished without leaving a trace behind. 

Edward looked hard at the hedge. It was as strong and 
impervious as a stone wall. No animal less ponderous than 
an elephant could break through it, none less active than a 
deer leap over it. He reconnoitred it from one end to the 
other, made several wide casts, and after loitering about a 
long time retraced his steps, foiled and discomfited, and 
wild with jealousy and rage, for though he had failed to catch 
the lovers m. flagrante delicto he had not a shadow of doubt 
that they were together — somewhere. 

When Olive, unaware of the danger she had so narrowly 
escaped, slipped through the opening, which Edward had 
fortunately overlooked, Charlie received her in his arms and 
greeted her even more tenderly than usual. Who could tell 
when or whether he should have the chance again ? 

" How kind of you to come ! " he said. " Was the coast 
clear ? Have you any news ? " 

" Quite. I did not see even a gardener. Yes, I have 
news, a letter — whom do you think from "i And a message 
for you." 

" I have no idea." 

" From Cousin Paul. It came yesterday. He writes from 



2o6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Nevada City, California. This is the message (producing 
the letter). I will read it. Listen. ' Tell your (a word I 
cannot make out, but I know he means you) that the impos- 
sible has happened. I have come across Mark Uarnley— 
more, I have taken him in hand and he is doing well. I gave 
him the message. It brought tears to his eyes, and he was 
very quiet and down for a long time afterwards ; he would 
like anybody who takes an interest in him to know that he 
has kept straight ever since he came to this country ; and he 
thinks that before long his family will hear something to his 
advantage. I think so, too. When are you going to bring 
your Prince to America ? He would make his fortune out 
here. He is the right sort. I shall never forget the Vv'on- 
derful way in which he made your horse turn a somersault 
over that fence.' 

" Dear old Paul ! I should like to see him again. Who 
is this Mark Darnley, and why did you send him a message .-• " 

"Well, it's rather a secret, but you can keep one." 

"Try me." 

" Mark Darnley is my brother Jack, As you may have 
heard. Jack was a sad scapegrace and a sore trouble to my 
father and mother. He behaved so badly, in fact, that it was 
impossible for him to remain in England ; and Ned and I 
got him away to America. Knowing he had gone West, I 
asked your cousin to keep a look-out for him, without, of 
course, saying he was my brother, though I fancy, from the 
tone of his letter, that he guesses or has been told the truth." 

" Why does he go by the name of Darnley ? " 

" To throw the police off his track. He deserted from the 
army; and there was a hue and cry after him." 

" How dreadful ! But he is doing well now, and from 
what Paul says, I am sure he is very sorry and penitent." 

" He has need to be. When I think of the trouble he has 
caused ! However, the less said about Jack the better. It 
is a painful subject — and I have something to tell you, darling, 
something which has been on my mind since I came here. I 
am very sorry, for I fear it will make you as unhappy as it 
has made me — but there is no help for it." 

" What is it ? " asked Olive anxiously. 

" I shall have to decline being your mother's trustee." 

" You are surely joking," she said, eyeing him with bewil- 
dered gaze. 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 



207 



" Do I look as if I were joking ? " 

In truth, he looked more like a man who is about to be 
executed, or going in for a competitive examination. 

"But why ? What has happened ? " 

" That is the worst of it. I am not at liberty to say." 

" Not at liberty to say, not at liberty to tell me ! " she 
exclaimed hotly, disengaging herself from his embrace. " I 
thought we were to have no secrets from each other. Is this 
the return for my love ? Is this " 

" Don't be so hast}', Olive. Let me explain." 

" What can you explain ? Will you tell me why you refuse 
to do this very small favor for my mother, which you said 
you esteemed an honor ? Will you tell me, yes or no ? " 

" Do have a little patience with me, Olive. I cannot answer 
yes or no. You may be sure I would if I could — right 
willingly. Some time you shall know all. But for the present 
my lips are sealed — much against my own will. Believe me, 
darling, that if I could tell you without breaking my word I 
would not hesitate a moment." 

*' Breaking your word, indeed ! Why, you are breaking it 
now. Didn't you write to my mother that you would accept 
the appointment with pleasure ? Haven't you protested over 
and over again that you would do whatever I asked you, and 
never keep aught back from me ? " 

Olive spoke with great heat and indignant gesture. She was 
touched in her pride, and felt as if her love were contemned. 
The idea of making Charlie a trustee was entirely hers. It 
was she who had suggested it to her mother, and persuaded 
her to discard Mr. Marsh. Her lover's refusal to act was 
both a breach of faith and an affront to her mother and 
herself. 

"It is all over between us," she continued after a short 
pause. " As we have not been formally engaged there is no 
engagement to break off. And we never shall be engaged. 
I cannot give my love to a man who slights my mother, and 
refuses me his confidence." 

" Don't say that, Olive. For God's sake don't say that. 
You will break my heart. If you knew how sorely I 
have been tried you would pity me instead of blaming me. 
I am striving to do right under terrible pressure to do wrong. 
You don't want me to do wrong, and I should do if " 

Here poor Charlie, who was deeply moved, nearly broke 



2o8 THE FRIJVCES OF PEELE. 

down, and in her heart Olive began to relent. But her temper 
was still high, and her pride would not let her show signs of 
yielding. 

" It cannot be right to slight my mother or wrong to give 
me your confidence — if you really love me," she said coldly. 
" However, you will do as you think best. I shall return your 
letters before you leave ; you can send mine when you get 
home." 

And then she turned on her heel and went down by the 
arbor; but as she thought of her lover's distress and recalled 
his pathetic appeal pity conquered pride, and, once out of 
sight, she stopped frequently and listened eagerly, hoping to 
hear his well-known footsteps, and ready to throw herself into 
his arms and ask his forgiveness for her hasty words. 

But Charlie, ignorant of the vagaries of maidens' minds, and 
believing that Olive had said her last words, remained for a 
while in gloomy meditation, and then left the Tryst by the 
gap in the hedge. 

Near the house he fell in with Edward. 

" You were up betimes this morning," said the latter. " I 
saw you go down the avenue soon after six." 

" Did you ? " answered Charlie absently, and walked on. 
Then, as if suddenly remembering something, he stopped 
short. " Look here, Ned," he said, " I may as well tell you 
now as later. I am not going to execute that deed unless 
Mrs, Lincoln is told." 

" Nonsense ! you consented." 

" No, I didn't. I admit that mother made me hesitate ; but 
I did not consent, and I never shall. That you may make 
up your mind to." 

Edward felt disposed to use strong language ; but, remem- 
bering the failure of his former attempt at browbeating, he 
kept his temper, observing quietly that he felt sure his 
brother would think better of it before the day was over. 

" No, I shall not," was the answer. 

" You must tell mother yourself, then ; I won't." 

" Very well ; I shall tell her when we return from our 
cruise," 

Edward smiled derisively. In a contest with his mother 
Charlie was sure to come off second best. There would be 
another scene, ending, as before, in his discomfiture, and the 
deed would be signed. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 209 

" It is past eight (looking at his watch). Let us go in to 
breakfast, or we shall not be off before the tide ebbs." 

The brothers entered the breakfast-room with the ladies. 
Charlie glanced at Olive ; though pale and heavy-eyed she 
was calm and composed, and as alert as usual. 

" You are not looking very bright this morning," said her 
mother. " The sail will do you good." 

" I am not going to sail." 

" Why ? " 

" I don't feel like it." 

" Have you a headache ? " 

" Yes, I have a headache." 

" In that case you had better stop at home and keep quiet. 
You will go all the same, of course (addressing the brothers)." 

" I think so. What do you say, Charlie ? " asked Edward 
of his brother. 

Charlie did not care for a sail with his brother for sole 
companion, he feared they might quarrel, and wanted to 
be alone — but as he could not well refuse to go because Olive 
was not going, answered listlessly, and not very graciously; 
" Yes, let us go." 

" When shall we expect you back ? " asked Mrs. Lincoln, 
and Edward (who evidently intended to " boss the show ") 
replied : 

" That depends a good deal on wind and weather. About 
three o'clock, I should say. W^e shall go a few miles out, 
and if it keeps calm do a little line fishing." 

" At any rate, you will be back in time for afternoon tea ? " 

" Certainly. At the very latest." 

14 



2IO THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

A CATASTROPHE. 

Olive's head ached a little, her heart a good deal. Con- 
science told her that she had been unkind, using in her anger 
words which, the more she thought of them, the harsher they 
seemed. She knew Charlie's loyalty and worth and how 
deeply he loved her ; only for good reason and because he 
had no alternative would he do aught either to give her um- 
brage or affront her mother. What was it .'' Why had he 
given his word not to execute the deed (for in this sense she 
construed his explanation), which only two days before he 
had been quite willing to execute, or he would not have 
brought it with him ? Had she been less impetuous and more 
forbearing, he might have given her a clue to the mystery 
without actually breaking the promise he had so strangely 
given. By her own act she was left completely in the dark. 

Instead of keeping quiet, as her mother had bidden her, 
Olive roamed restlessly about the grounds in rueful mood, 
longing continually for Charlie's return, in order that she might 
let him know by sign or word that he was forgiven and she 
repentant, and arrange for a meeting on the morrow. 

After luncheon Olive, with a book in one hand and a sun- 
shade in the other, strolled towards the shrubberies, as if 
seeking a shady corner where she might sit down and read ; 
then, as if changing her mind, or following out a preconceived 
plan, she doubled and made for the Fairies' Tryst. It was 
the quietest spot she knew, and she wanted to be alone with 
her thoughts. Sitting down in the arbor, Olive opened her 
book, and her resolve to make it up with Charlie having some- 
what tranquilized her mind, she actually succeeded in read- 
ing a few pages with understanding. But soon her thoughts 
wandered once more, and finding it impossible to sit still, she 
laid the book down and turned with pensive mien into the 
path leading to the Cove. 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 2 1 1 

"Olive!" 

The girl started and stopped short. It seemed as if some- 
body were calling her name a long way off. Yes. There it 
was again — " Olive ! " faint, yet distinct, as if wafted by the 
breeze from over the sea. Greatly wondering, but quite on 
the alert, she walked slowly down the path. 

Charlie ! Of course. Who else could it be .' Who but 
he would call her name in that soft, low voice } 

And there he was in the path, coming to meet her. 

" Back already ! " she cried, hastening towards him. " I 
did not expect you so soon." 

But even as she spoke he was gone — as suddenly and swiftly 
as though he had sunk into the ground, or melted into the 
air. 

Thinking he was teasing her she ran to the spot where she 
had last seen him, peering into the bushes and calling his 
name. But her summons was unheeded, her eyes sought for 
him in vain ; he had vanished utterly. It was very strange. 

And then, feeling faint and bewildered, she leant against a 
tree and tried to compose herself and collect her thoughts. If 
it had not been for the call she might have thought that Charlie 
wanted to avoid her ; but if he did, why was he there alone ? 
And the manner of his disappearance was so creepily uncanny. 
One moment there, the next nowhere — gone without turning 
his head or making a sign. Olive had protested to her lover 
that she was not superstitious, and was probably no more so 
than most folks ; yet she had read stories of wraiths and 
doubles, and now strange thoughts assailed her and a great 
fear came over her. But not for long ; in a few minutes she 
was herself again, and laughing at her own folly. 

" It was Charlie himself — of course it was — why should I 
doubt it? Anyway, I'll soon find out," a resolve that showed 
she was not quite so sure as she tried to believe. 

In twenty minutes she was at Ae Cove. Two or three 
boatmen were loitering about, with their hands in their 
pockets and their pipes in their mouths. 

" Is the yawl back. Job ? " she asked one of them. 

" Not yet ; and I don't see her coming, neither " (shading 
his eyes with his hands and looking seaward). 

It was all Olive could do to maintain her composure, and 
feeling that she must say something, yet not knowing what, 
she rather foolishly asked the man, who had a sour temper, 



2 1 2 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

and made a point of always looking at the dark side, when 
he thought the yawl would be back. 

" That is more than I can tell you, Miss Lincoln," he said 
with a shrug of his shoulders. " It depends so much how 
far the gentlemen have gone, what sort of sailors they are, 
and what sort of weather they make. I've seen boats go out 
as has never come back." 

Olive turned pale." 

" You surely don't think they are in any danger .'' " she 
asked. 

" No, miss, I cannot say as I do think so ; the yawl is a 
good sea boat, the wind is fair and the weather fine. But 
there's no telling ; the sea is always treacherous, and we have 
as much weather on this coast as anywhere I've bin to, and 
I've bin well-nigh everywhere. As like as not it'll be blowing 
half-a-gale before sundown." 

" Would half-a-gale be very bad .'' " 

" Not as bad as a hout-and-houter, nor yet three-parts of 
one, miss." 

Olive turned away and wended homeward — by the road, 
not the footpath and the Fairies' Tryst. 

It was not Charlie she had seen, then, after all. At any 
rate, not Charlie in the body, and as she did not believe in 
apparitions and knew nothing of telepathy, she fell back on 
optical illusions, about which she had lately read a paper in 
Chambers''s Miscellany. Nothing was more probable than 
that the shadowy likeness of her lover which she had seen 
in the path was the coinage of her imagination. The meet- 
ing in the morning, the quarrel, Charlie's departure, the 
loneliness of the Fairies' Tryst and its associations ; all these 
favored the evolution of mental phantasmagoria. Yes, there 
could be no doubt about it ; the figure she had seen and the 
voice she had heard were illusions ; an opinion in which she 
was confirmed by a re-perusal of the article in C/iambers's 
Miscellany. Nevertheless, and in spite of herself, doubts 
still lingered in Olive's mind, and as the hour when the 
brothers had promised to return drew near her uneasiness 
increased. They might be back at three or four ; they were 
sure to be back at five. Every time the clock struck she 
counted the strokes, and when it went five and there was still 
no sign of them, her anxiety deepened into alarm. 

" They are surely very late," she said to her mother. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 213 

"Oh, I don't know. \Mien men go out fishing they lose 
count of time. They are perhaps having good sport and 
don't like to leave off ; or the wind may be contrary. Let us 
have tea, they are sure to be back by dinner-time." 

Again Olive was comforted, but only for a while. At six 
o'clock her suspense grew unbearable, and not liking to make 
another visit to the Cove she took a field-glass and went to a 
part of the grounds which commanded a view of the sea. 
Several boats were visible, any one of which might be the 
yawl; this cheered her; she was also glad to see that the old 
sailor's forebodings as to the weather were not being fulfilled. 
True, the boats were tossing about a bit, and there was a 
lively breeze, but nothing like a gale, or even half-a-gale, 
and as the yawl was a good sea boat and Edward a skilful 
boatman — to say nothing of Charlie — it was hardly conceiv- 
able that they could have met with any mishap. Her mother 
was no doubt right ; they had either gone further than they 
intended or were catching so many fish that they did not 
like to leave off. 

Olive shut up her glass, and on returning to the house found 
her mother at the front door, gazing seaward and looking 
vexed. 

" I see nothing of them," she said, testily. " Whatever 
can they be doing } If they are not here soon the dinner 
wull be quite spoiled. Let us walk down the avenue, and see 
whether they are coming."' 

Olive acquiesced. It was a winding avenue, and as they 
rounded the first turn two men v.'ere visible in the distance, 
coming towards them. 

" Why, there they are," exclaimed Mrs. Lincoln. 

" Two men, at any rate," returned Olive, with assumed 
indifference. 

" Yes, Edward and Charlie. No, it isn't. Edward and 
somebody else. W^ho is he .'' Your eyes are younger than 
mine." 

" Job, the boatman," said Olive, and for the second time 
that day a great fear came over her. 

" Charlie is behind, no doubt ; he will be here presently. 
I am very glad ; there will be no need to keep dinner back 
more than ten minutes or so. Here they come. Well, you 
are late, I was just saying. — Why, what ? ^^^hatever is the 
matter ? " 



2 1 4 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Edward was deadly pale, his eyes were red, as if he had 
been weeping ! he was all of a tremble, his knees bent as he 
walked, and the old sailor looked portentously grave. 

" Whatever is the matter ? " she repeated. " Where is 
Charlie.'' " 

" He — I — mean — Charlie " stammered Edward, \viping 

the sweat from his brow, and leaning on Job for support. 
" He is " 

" Dead," said Olive in an intense whisper, looking into his 
eyes, her hands tightly clenched, her face ghastly. 

" Who says so ? How do you know ? How does anybody 
know ? " returned Edward, bending his head, as if to avoid 
her gaze, 

" I can see it in your face," 

" What has happened ? Tell us right away, for Heaven's 
sake," exclaimed Mrs. Lincoln, who was too agitated to no- 
tice her daughter's still greater agitation. " What has hap- 
pened .-* Where is Charlie ? " 

" There has been an accident. A very sad, inexplicable 
accident," said Edward, pulling himself together and speak- 
ing more coherently. " When we were a few miles out — south 
of Thornby Point — the wind fell off and we began fishing, 
and did pretty well, but after a while it grew very hot, and 
Charlie proposed that we should bathe. All this time we had 
been drifting further south and were a longish way from land. 
I agreed, of course, but as I am not much of a swimmer I 
said I would keep close to the boat, and I warned Charlie 
not to go too far away ; the tide being on the turn and the 
yawl beginning to drift, 'AH right,' he said, 'I'll not lose 
sight of you,' and then he dived over the port side and swam 
away. A few minutes afterwards I went into the water on 
the starboard side, and stayed in, perhaps, a quarter of an 
hour or twenty minutes, keeping close to the boat, which con- 
tinued to drift, and floating on my back nearly all the time. 
The first thing I did when I got into the boat was to look for 
Charlie, To my horror, I could see nothing of him ; even 
through my glass, a very powerful one that we had taken with 
us, I could not make him out. Then I shouted, again and 
again, but no answer came. . . , When I last saw him — just 
before I went into the water myself — he was going away from 
the land, but whether he had continued in that direction I 
could not tell — it was not likely that he would keep straight 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



215 



on ; yet I feared that, with his swimming and the boat drift- 
ing, we were so far apart that he could not see me, so I made 
sail and stood out to sea, then tacked, then lay to, and tacked 
again, and so continued a long time, all the while keeping a 
sharp lookout, and making as much noise as I could. At 
last, I fell in with a fishing-smack, and, hailing her, told the 
crew what had happened. They lent me a boy to help sail 
the yawl ; and we both cruised about fully three hours, until, 
in fact, as night was coming on and the wind rising, the 
smack's people wouldn't stay with me any longer ; they said 
it was no use." 

" And they was right," put in Job ; " if you had stood there, 
on and off, to the Judgment-day, you wouldn't have found 
him. He was gone long afore you fell in with the smack — 
ten to one afore you missed him. It was cramp — that's what 
it was — and when a man is seized with cramp he just gives a 
shriek and goes down like a stone. As like as not, however, 
the body will be washed ashore or picked up." 

" Did you hear any cry, Edward ? " asked Mrs. Lincoln. 

" Hear any cry ? Oh, Mrs. Lincoln, what do you take me 
for ? Do you think that if I had heard a cry I wouldn't have 
gone to him ? " 

" Of course you would. I beg your pardon. I did not 
know what I was saying. What a terrible misfortune. Poor 
Charlie! I fear it is as you say. Job; he must have been 
seized with cramp. God help his poor mother. Who will 
break it to her.? Olive!" 

But Olive was gone. She had heard enough ; her worst 
forebodings were realized, and, unable longer to control her 
feelings, she had stolen away to her own room. 

" Would you break it to her, Mrs. Lincoln ? " asked Ed- 
ward with bated breath, and in a broken voice. " I . , . 
don't feel as if I could. The suspense and agony of the last 
few hours have quite unmanned me, and I am physically ex- 
hausted. I should be eternally obliged." 

It was not a pleasant thing to do, and rather in the line of 
his duty than hers ; nevertheless Mrs. Lincoln gave a prompt, 
albeit somewhat reluctant, assent to the proposal. 

" Very well," she said, " but you must be at hand in case 
she wants you. No wonder you are so overcome, but you 
will have to keep up for your poor mother's sake. Go into 
the house and get a glass of wine while I speak to her." 



2i6 THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 

Mrs. Lincoln, though a good woman, was not good at 
beating about the bush ; it was her habit to go straight to 
the point, and she brol<e the bad news in such a fashion as 
to make Mrs. Prince imagine that she had been bereft of both 
her sons by the same stroke. 

" Dear friend," she began, " I have been asked to tell you 
something that it will grieve you sorely to hear. A great 
misfortune has happened. But He who tempers the wind 
to the shorn lamb will give you strength to bear it. The 
yawl ' 

"I know what you mean Oh my God, that 

it should come to this ! My sin has found me out ; my cup 
is full. Both gone, both gone ! " cried Mrs. Prince, franti- 
cally, and then swooned. 

Mrs. Lincoln applied restoratives, and when the stricken 
woman recovered consciousness explained what had really 
befallen, laying stress on the fact that though Charlie was 
missing he might not be drowned, that there was room for 
hope. 

But Mrs. Prince refused to be comforted. 

" You don't think so yourself, I can see you don't," she 
said. " Room for hope ! Oh, that I could think so ! My 
poor boy is gone, gone forever. He was the apple of his 
father's eye. Leonard and Charlie both gone ! And Jack 
I shall never see again. Ah me ! " 

And then she fell a-weeping, and asked for Edward, and 
when he came Mrs. Lincoln left them together. 

He looked much less distraught than he had done a short 
time previously, thanks, probably, to the wine — a good deal 
more than a glass — which he had just drank. His mother 
assailed him with passionate upbraidings. Why had he 
gone boating.!' ^^'hy did he take Charlie with him? Why 
did he let Charlie bathe ? Why didn't he stay all night look- 
ing for the poor boy ? 

Edward was very patient with her, either listening in 
gloomy silence or answering gently and reasonably. Then 
she said it was a judgment — that, if they had hearkened to 
Charlie's advice and disclosed the secret of the broken 
trust to Mrs. Lincoln and offered to make restitution, he 
would not have died ; adding, " And now we shall be 
obliged to tell her." 

" Your grief is affecting your memory, mother, and no 



TIIK PRINCES OF PEELE. 



217 



wonder ; the broken trust has nothing to do with our going 
out in the yawl or bathing." * 

" It was recklQss beyond measure to bathe from an open 
boat so far from land, and neither of you a strong swimmer. 
Oh, why didn't Olive go with you ? If she had you wouldn't 
have been able to bathe." 

" Anyhow, Olive not going with us had nothing to do 
with the trust ; while as for our recklessness, as you call it, 
if Charlie had done as I wanted him and kept near the boat, 
he would be here now. He went too far and sank from 
exhaustion before he could get back — or was seized with 
cramp, as Job thinks. And you are mistaken about the 
secret ; there is no need to disclose it — now." 

" I don't understand you. Do speak plainly. I am quite 
dazed. As the poor boy is dead, and cannot be your co- 
trustee, we shall be obliged to tell Mrs. I-incoln, and all the 
sacrifices we have made will go for nothing." 

" Not unless you like. We should have been obliged to 
tell her if this had not happened. Charlie told me before we 
set out, and repeated emphatically in the boat — else I should 
scarce have believed him — that nothing would induce him, 
not even your entreaties, to sign the deed without imparting 
all the facts to Mrs. Lincoln." 

" Did he, really ? After his promise, too. Still, I don't 
think he would have persisted in his refusal when it came to 
the point. And now, you say ? " 

" Charlie is in the policy. The company will have no 
excuse for refusing to pay this time." 

" I thought you had surrendered the policy." 

" Not yet. We were in treaty, but the transaction was not 
completed, and now, of course, will not be." 

" You will get the money, then ? " 

" Yes." 

*' The price of your brother's life." 

Edward started as if he had been stung ; and his face, 
which had regained some of its wonted color, became ashen 
gray. 

" The price of my brother's life, m.other," he exclaimed in 
a voice tremulous with emotion. " Do you think — do you 

mean that I, that I " And then, as if his feelings were 

too much for him, he leaned back in his chair and covered 
his face with his hands. 



2i8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I did not mean to accuse you, dear, but the thought struck 
me ; it seems to -be so dreadful to be talking about this 
money, as if we regarded it in some sort as an equivalent for 
our poor lost boy." 

" I never said so." 

" You spoke of both in the same breath. But let it 
pass. . . . Do you think there is any chance of the body 
being recovered ? " she asked faintly. 

"The fishermen say there is, and I shall offer a reward." 

" Do. Do everything possible. If he isn't laid in con- 
secrated ground I think it will kill me, and now, dear, leave 
me to myself. I shall be better alone." 

When Mrs. Lincoln left her friend she went to her daughter. 
Olive's abrupt disappearance from the avenue had rekindled 
her suspicions and put her on the track of a painful dis- 
covery. She found the girl lying on her bed, indulging in a 
passionate outburst of brief. 

" My poor child, what is this ? " she asked tenderly, taking 
Olive in her arms. " You loved him t " 

For a while Olive did not answer ; then stifling her sobs 
and lifting her head, she said tremulously and with quivering 
lips : — 

" Yes, mother. Charlie was very dear to me, and we had 
agreed to be engaged — with your consent — when we were a 
little older. He was so good and noble, mother, and he 
loved me, and I " 

" You did not consider yourself engaged, then ? " 

" No, I wouldn't be engaged until I could tell you . . . and 
it would not have been right so soon after Mr. Prince's death." 

" Does anybody know of this .'' " 

" Nobody. We kept it quite to ourselves." 

To Olive's great relief, her mother asked no further ques- 
tions, and instead of blaming her, or finding fault with Charlie, 
as she had feared, did all she could to soothe and console her. 

It was agreed between them that the quasi-engagement 
should be kept an absolute secret, even from Mrs. Prince, 
and to this end Olive promised that she would " keep up," 
as her mother phrased it, and not betray herself by a dis- 
play of inordinate grief. 

" You know, darling, it would not be seemly to sorrow 
openly for a man to whom you were not openly engaged," 
said Mrs. Lincoln to Olive, and then to herself : " It w^as 
only children's love after all ; she will soon get over it." 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 219 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

A SUMMONS FROM THE SEA. 

It is a trite adage, yet true withal, that adverse fortune and 
strokes of ill-luck are seldom quite so bad as they seem. As 
we sit by the fireside on a winter's night, and the storm 
howls without, we think with a pitying shudder of the poor 
wayfarer who is exposed to the fury of the blast. But the 
wayfarer himself is probably neither cast down nor appalled. 
With bent head and teeth hard set he battles on to his 
journey's end, knowing that at the worst it cannot be 
far off. 

In the same way, when a neighbor or a friend is visited 
by a calamity so crushing that it hardly seems possible for 
him to survive it, he lives on, and after a time (however he 
may suffer in secret) appears very little the worse. The wind 
is tempered to the shorn lamb oftener than we suppose. 

Charles Prince's death was a dire shock to Olive Lincoln ; 
it pained her all the more that she had parted from him in 
anger, while she knew, or imagined she knew, that his last 
thought was of her, for now she firmly believed, that the 
voice she had heard in the Fairies' Tryst was his voice, the 
figure she had seen his wraith. It seemed as though the 
light of her life were gone out, and that she should never 
know happiness a^ain. But broken hearts are rarer in reality 
than in romance ; a middle-aged matron, bereft of her hus- 
band, is much more likely to be inconsolable than a maiden 
in her teens bereft of her lover, and we know that widows 
do not always refuse to be comforted. Olive grieved deeply 
for Charlie ; the wound was slow to heal, and for many weeks 
she could not think of him without a heartache, yet she was 
too young to despair and too hopeful to pine, and so com- 
ported herself — " behaved so nobly," as her mother put it 
— that nobody guessed that Charlie had been more to her 
than a highly esteemed friend, and the time came when she 



220 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

found consolation for her sorrow in a nobler passion than 
love for a man. 

Even Edward was deceived. " A case of flirtation on one 
side ?.nd calf-love on the other," he thought to himself, and 
drew therefrom an augury favorable to his hopes. 

As for Mrs. Prince, her preoccupation about the broken 
trust, the deception which she had so long practised, her 
passionate eagerness to shield the family honor from the 
breath of scandal at whatever cost, and the morbid pride 
which was her ruling motive blunted her motherly, as it had 
blunted her wifely, love. True, she mourned for her lost 
son, yet her grief was rendered less acute, tolerable even, by 
the thought that his death would enable her to make good her 
husband's default, and keep all knowledge of the fatal secret 
from a censorious world. Her sense of relief from the strain 
of anxiety was almost as great as the pain of her sorrow, a 
fact of which she was fully conscious, and whereof in her 
heart she felt bitterly ashamed ; and the ever-recurring 
thought that the course advised by Charlie — a frank con- 
fession to Mrs. Lincoln — was still the right thing to do, and 
that she had not the courage to do it, added to her humilia- 
tion. The subject was so painful, indeed, that between 
Edward and herself it was tacitly ignored. Charlie they 
could not help sometimes talking about ; but reference to the 
secret was religiously avoided, and trust matters were men- 
tioned only when absolutely necessary, and as briefly as 
possible. 

Two days after the catastrophe Edward and his mother 
returned to Peele. Mrs. Lincoln would have had her stay 
longer, but INIrs. Prince pleaded a yearning for home, quite 
natural in the circumstances, and insisted on going back with 
her son. And she had another motive for hurrying away. 
Her friend's presence had become painful to her, it kept her 
in mind of her lost boy and the broken trust, and her nerves 
being unstrung she was in mortal dread lest she should say 
or do something which might betray the secret or give a 
clue to her thoughts. 

Charlie's death, coming so soon after his father's, naturally 
made a sensation at Peele, and general sympathy was shown 
for the bereaved family. Cards were left by the score, but 
Mrs. Prince shut herself in her room, and for several days 
refused to see even her most intimate friends. 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 22 i 

Before leaving Whitebeach Edward made it known that he 
would pay fifty pounds for the finding of his brother's body, 
and arranged with a local coastguard officer to send him in- 
stant information of its recovery — if it should be recovered. 

His next proceeding was to advise the secretary of the 
^gis of Charlie's death. He said nothing about the conse- 
quent rupture of the negotiation for the surrender of the policy. 
That was a matter of course. 

Edward awaited Mr. Cutter's answer with some anxiety, 
for he was not so sure of getting the money quickly as he 
had led his mother to believe ; and, Charlie being dead, Mrs. 
Lincoln might appoint another trustee at once, though, as 
yet, she had expressed no such intention, and he had been 
careful not to moot the subject. As it happened, Mrs. Lin- 
coln meant to appoint Mr. Marsh, and only refrained from 
informing Edward of her decision out of a feeling of delicacy. 
It would not be nice, she thought, to trouble him about busi- 
ness so soon after poor Charlie's death. 

The Secretary's answer came in due course. It Avas short 
and dry. He said how sorry he was to hear of Mr. Charles 
Prince's death, and that he had taken note of his correspon- 
dent's communication, and would lay it before his directors. 

This meant that the company would not pay the sum due 
under the policy until they had received satisfactory proof of 
Charlie's decease, proof of which, in the circumstances, it was 
not easy to furnish. Edward could only say that, to the best 
of his belief, his brother had perished, and point out that, in 
view of the facts, no other theory was tenable. As, however, 
he had not seen him drown, it Avas open to the company to 
hold a different opinion ; and, though they must pay event- 
ually, they could procrastinate so long as to put Edward in a 
serious predicament. And it would be as impolite to show 
eagerness as to affect indifference ; in the one case they might 
think that he had urgent need of the money, in the other, that 
he had so little confidence in the justice of his claim that he 
hesitated to urge it. 

Altogether Edward Prince found himself in an embarrass- 
ing position. If the body were found his difficulties would 
of course be at an end ; the proof of Charlie's decease would 
be complete ; but that v.'as a piece of good fortune on which 
(though he had done his best to bring it to pass) it would 
not be safe to count. 



222 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

His final decision was to delay further action for a few 
days. Mrs. Lincoln had fortunately said nothing further 
about the appointment of another trustee, and even when he 
did receive her instructions in the matter he need not carry 
them out at once. 

It was probably these perplexities, or the shock of Charlie's 
death, or the two causes combined, which made Edward so 
nervous at this time. Did anybody accost him abruptly he 
would start and turn pale. A knock at his door put him in 
a shake, and Avhen a telegram was brought to him he would 
let it lie on the table until the bearer left the room, and then 
open it with tremulous fingers. Once, as he was walking up 
the street, absorbed in thought, a friend laid his hand on 
Edward's shoulder. For a minute or two he seemed like to 
faint. His knees knocked together, his face became almost 
ghastly, and he staggered as if he were going to fall. 

" How poor Charlie's death has taken hold of Ned Prince ! " 
said the friend afterwards to another friend. " And no 
wonder. It must have been a terrible experience. I never 
saw a man so changed." 

All his other friends ascribed Edward's nervousness to the 
same cause — all save Lillywhite, who was watching him 
closely, partly on general principles, partly because he had 
conceived certain doubts. 

The old clerk felt Charlie's death deeply, and in the man- 
ner of it, as related by Edward, there was something which 
struck him as being strange, if not suspicious. The younger 
brother, albeit a fair, was by no means a powerful swimmer, 
and being, moreover, out of practice, it was not likely that in 
the open sea he would venture far from an unanchored and 
possibly drifting boat, especially with Edward's warning ring- 
ing in his ears. Lillywhite gave him credit for better sense. 
It was also noteworthy that Edward discussed the incident 
like one repeating a lesson learned by rote, and when ques- 
tioned on the subject showed irritation. 

On the other hand, if the story were not true, how far was 
it false and what had really happened ? 

Here Lillywhite was baffled. Two or three theories sug- 
gested themselves, but none of them quite fitted the facts or 
was sufficiently probable for acceptance, 

Edward unquestionably gained by his brother's death. It 
had rid him of a rival, and would enable him to reinstate 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 223 

Mrs. Lincoln's trust fund — to the Prince family almost a 
matter of life and death. Hence there was a strong motive 
for foul play. 

Lillywhite did not stop to consider whether Edward was 
capable of foul play, which in this instance meant, of course, 
compassing his brother's death. The old clerk was naturally 
cynical. In the law courts and elsewhere he had seen a good 
deal of the seamy side of life, and it was a common saying of 
his that, after Jonathan Salmon, he could believe anybody cap- 
able of anythmg. Thirty years previously Salmon had been 
one of the most prominent and respected inhabitants of Peele. 
A Quaker of the old type, forward in every good work, ener- 
getic in well doing, of a probity beyond doubt, he died in the 
odor of sanctity and amid a chorus of lamentations. But 
hardly had he been laid in the ground than it was discovered 
that for the greater part of his life he had been systematically 
defrauding a savings bank, of which he was the principal 
trustee. His defalcations reached a total of seventy thousand 
pounds. 

So Lillywhite had some warrant for his cynicism ; and he 
held that it could not be predicted with certainty of any man 
that his integrity would hold out against great temptations or 
severe pressure. 

Edward Prince was just as likely to commit a murder as 
Jonathan Salmon had been to rob a savings bank, a crime 
quite as bad as murder. It was, however, doubtful whether 
he had the nerve to do anything so desperate, and whether, 
even though he had, he would consider the probable profit 
commensurate with the appalling risk. Moreover, he was 
physically weaker and less agile than Charlie, and though he 
might shoot or stab him unawares, the body, if found — and 
the finding was at least possible — would be damning evidence 
against him. 

" No," said Lillywhite to himself, after long pondering. " I 
don't think it is a case of fratricide. The motive isn't suffi- 
cient. Also he lacks the courage ; and to give the devil his 
due, I don't think he is wicked enough. But then why is he 
so nervous and restless ? Grief? No, grief doesn't take that 
shape. Besides, I doubt whether he does grieve. There was 
never much love lost between them, and he has fifteen thou- 
sand reasons for not fretting." 

And then Lillywhite considered another hypothesis. Was 



224 ^^^-^ PKIA'CES OF PEELE. 

it a scheme to defraud the insurance company ? Nothing 
would be easier than for Edward to put Charlie ashore (dis- 
guised, say, as a sailor) in some out-of-the-way place, and then 
pretend he had been accidentally drowned. 

In his heart the clerk did not think that Charlie would lend 
himself to so nefarious a scheme. Yet there was no telling. 
He was of a generous, confiding nature, easily led (if you took 
him on the right side), his mother and Edward were master- 
ful and in desperate straits, and it was just conceivable that 
under pressure and to save his father's name from dishonor 
he might have consented to efface himself and commit a fraud. 
Only just, however, and when Lillywhite remembered that 
Charlie could not efface himself without sacrificing Olive 
Lincoln he perceived that it was not conceivable at all. 
Another objection to the theory was the fact that up to the 
time of his leaving Peele Charlie knew nothing of the breach 
of trust. Only the day before he went they were talking of 
his appointment as Mrs. Lincoln's trustee, Avhen Lillywhite 
(by way of sounding him) observed that the office of trustee 
was always thankless and often hazardous. 

" Not in this instance," answered the young fellow gaily. 
" I regard the appointment as an honor ; and as for hazard, 
what hazard can there be when every shilling of the trust 
fund is in Consols?" 

It was simply impossible that in two days and in a strange 
house Charlie could be persuaded to abandon his sweetheart, 
his country, and his name, and condemn himself to a life-long 
exile. 

" That theory won't wash either, not a bit," was Lillywhite's 
conclusion, and but for the strangeness of Edward's de- 
meanor since the occurrence he would have been disposed 
to regard his account of it as true. 

Edward's manner was less that of a man suffering from 
grief or remorse than of one who was in a chronic state of 
apprehension and fear. 

The " ofiice " was once concerned in the defence of some 
poachers, who were accused of killing the keeper, and the 
" office " (meaning thereby the managing clerk) got them off. 
After their acquittal Lillywhite had a long talk with the ring- 
leader, who frankly admitted that it was he who had struck 
the fatal blow, and he vividly described his sensations be- 
tween the affray and his arrest. He hoped (vainly as it turned 



TflE PRINCES OF PEELE. 225 

out) that by staying quietly at home he should escape sus- 
picion. But his nerves were always on edge. If the door 
opened he would nearly jump out of his skin, if he heard 
footsteps during the night he would break into a cold sweat, 
if anybody touched him unawares he felt like to drop, and he 
protested that until he found himself " in quod," he did not 
know a moment's peace. It was not conscience that made a 
coward of him (in his moral code the killing of a keeper was 
no crime), it was fear, and after his acquittal the man was as 
serene as a saint. 

Edward Prince's symptoms so far resembled the poacher's as 
to suggest that they proceeded from a similar cause. This 
was the somewhat abortive outcome of Lillywhite's pon- 
derings. Time might bring a solution of the enigma. For 
the present all he could do was to keep his eye on Edward 
and await developments. 

Meanwhile, he had done a little stroke of business which 
greatly pleased him. 

So soon as Olive rallied a little from the shock of Charlie's 
death, she bethought her of the letters which in her anger 
she had asked him to return. They contained nothing of 
which she had any reason to be ashamed, but much that she 
would not like anybody else, especially Edward, to read. She 
knew that Lillywhite had been in Charlie's confidence, and 
believed he was a man whom she might safely trust. So she 
wrote a guarded though pathetic little missive, beseeching 
him, if he could to get the letters which she had written to 
" Mr. Charles," and send them to her as soon as possible. 
It was an extreme course, and only adopted because it seemed 
the lesser of two evils. 

Lillywhite, on his part, accepted the commission with pleas- 
ure and performed it with alacrity. He opened Charlie's 
desk with a key — one of a score borrowed from the locksmith 
— found the letters, and forwarded them to Miss Lincoln by 
return of post, together with one of his own, in which he felici- 
tated himself on having it in his power to serve her, assured 
her of his sympathy, and protested (without much exaggera- 
tion) that he had loved Mr. Charles as his own son. 

Olive answered with a graceful letter of thanks, and the old 
clerk felt that he had scored again. He had placed Miss 
Lincoln under an obligation, added to his store of secrets, 
and secured two letters which might come in useful. 



226 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

So it came to pass that when Edward Prince returned from 
Whitebeach, and looked over his brother's papers, he found, 
to his surprise, and rather to his disappointment, nothing re- 
lating to Olive, from which he rashly inferred that Charlie 
had cared so little for his sweetheart that he had not taken 
the trouble to preserve her letters. 

Edward never guessed that they had been purloined, and 
the incident was quickly forgotten ; but, being naturally acute 
and morbidly sensitive, he was not long in perceiving that 
Lillywhite was watching him — with suspicion. The idea, 
besides making him angry, increased his nervousness, and he 
resolved, when he had got the insurance money and replaced 
the misappropriated stock, to give his managing clerk the 
sack. 

" The old villain knows a good deal — a good deal too 
much," he thought one day as he sat at his desk moodily 
despondent. " Suspects rather, for his knowledge is not sus- 
ceptible of proof, and I don't think he could hurt me ; nobody 
would believe him, and now Charlie is " 

Here Edward's reflections were interrupted by a knock at 
the door, whereat he started violently, 

" Hang it ! " he muttered. " Shall I never get over this 

confounded nervousness. If I could only make sure 

Come in ! " 

It was Lillywhite with a telegram. 

"Why didn't you let one of the boys bring it?" asked 
Edward crossly. *' Your time is too valuable to be carrying 
telegrams about." 

" I wanted to speak to you about that matter of Ardwick's, 
so I thought I might as well bring you the despatch," returned 
Lillywhite deferentially. 

Edward, changing countenance in spite of himself, opened 
the telegram with hesitating fingers. After reading it twice 
he drew a long breath. 

" I must go to Whitebeach by the next train," he said, 
handing the message to Lillywhite. It ran thus — 

" A body, supposed to be your brother's, has been found 
by some fishermen. You had better come at once." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



227 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

A NARROW SHAVE. 

LiLLYWHiTE was a man of feelings : his expressive nose 
changed color, and he wiped his eyes with a huge bandana 
pocket-handkerchief. The recovery of the body seemed to 
bring the fact of Charlie's death more home to him and make 
it more terrible. " God bless me ! " he exclaimed. " Why, 
it is nearly a month since the accident. I had given up all 
hope." 

" So had I — nearly. However, you see what they say. 
Scholes must take the dog-cart to Holmcroft and fetch me 
some things ; and I shall want money. Here is a check for 
eighty pounds ; get sixty in small notes and twenty in gold. 
I offered a reward of fifty pounds and there will be other 
expenses. Stay ! What was it you wanted to ask me 
about ? " 

*' That matter of Ardwick's." 

" Does he make any definite offer ? " 

"Yes, twenty down and the balance by equal monthly 
instalments." 

" Accept it. One moment (writing). Let Scholes give 
this note to my mother." 

\Mien Lillywhite was gone Edward went to his bookcase, 
took out of it a work on medical jurisprudence, and turning 
to the chapter on " Drowning," studied it with close atten- 
tion for half-an-hour. Then, leaning back in his chair he 
covered his face with his hands and shuddered, murmuring : 
— " It has to be done. I must go through with it, must, must. 
To shirk it would give rise to damaging suspicions, and if 
the body be identified as his the ^gis must pay up at once, 
and that danger will be out of the way and off my mind." 

Here there was another knock at the door, Edward 
roused himself, wiped the perspiration from his face, and 
bade the knocker come in. It was Lillywhite again. 



228 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I have sent Scholes and been to the bank, and here is 
the money," he said, going up to the desk. 

Edward, who had been momentarily oblivious of the book, 
closed it hurriedly and pushed the volume aside ; yet not be- 
fore Lillywhite had noted the heading of the open page : — 
" Found dead." 

" Can I do anything more for you, sir ? " he asked, as he 
counted out the notes and gold. 

" I don't think so. Yes, call at the Town Hall and tell the 
Mayor where I am gone ; but ask him to keep it to himself 
for the present, or the Mercury people will be sending a 
reporter down, and those are fellows I hate." 

" Very well, sir." 

Lillywhite left the room, musing. 

"Found dead," he thought. "Very likely, I should say. 
They were sure to find the body — or some body — at that 
price. Fifty pounds is a fortune for a Whitebeach fisherman. 
And is a body recognizable after three or four weeks' immer- 
son ? I must have a look at that book when he is gone. 
No wonder he is upset. But why does he look so scared ? 
It should be a satisfaction to him, and I know it will be to 
his mother to have the poor lad decently buried, to say noth- 
ing of getting the insurance money now instead of waiting 
for another month or two. Gad ! he did look scared and no 
mistake. That telegram might have been a ghost, and he 
has not got over it yet. Queer, very queer." 

Three hours later Edward Prince was at Whitebeach. 
He had telegraphed to Job, the old fisherman, to meet him at 
the station, and the two walked together by the fields to the 
Wheat Sheaf, a little inn by the seashore, where Edward 
proposed to put up. The body had been recovered by Job 
and two of his mates, with whom he would have to share the 
reward. As the boatman described the finding of the body 
(on a sandbank off Thornby Point) and its appearance in the 
bluntest of language, sparing no detail, Mr. Prince became 
painfully affected and bade him peremptorily to stop : nor 
was conversation resumed until he had fortified himself with 
a stiff glass of the Wheat Sheaf's brandy. 

Job had no doubt whatever as to the body being Mr, 
Charles's. He never forgot a face, and though the " poor 
young gentleman" was naturally much altered, anybody 
could " tell him." His mates were equally sure. The 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 229 

coroner had been notified and was going to hold the 
inquest on the following day. The body lay at the coast- 
guard station — would Mr. Prince like to see it ? 

There was nothing in the world that Edward wanted less 
to see, but as the seeing was a necessity and hesitation 
might engender suspicion he overcame his repugnance and 
signified his assent. After steadying his nerves with another 
drink, and, standing a glass of rum for Job, he went to the 
place in question and was shown by the officer on duty into 
the room, where his brother's remains were laid. 

The ordeal was almost more than F Iward could bear. 
He paused at the threshold several seconds, then went for- 
ward, visibly trembling and leaning against the wall for 
support. After gazing at the ghastly sight for a few minutes 
like one fascinated, he crept, with bent head, from the room. 

" It do look bad, that's sure. It's changed a good deal for 
the worse since yesterday, isn't it, Mr. Rentoul ? " said Job. 

" It is, indeed. They always do on exposure to the air. 
The salt water acts as a preservative." 

" Ay, ay, a sort of pickle, I've heard say. I felt sure as 
it 'ud turned up sooner or later. I've known 'em washed 
ashore two months arter. I was the first to spot it, aground 
on the Horse Bank at low tide. You can see the waves 
breaking over it now, sir ; about two miles west o' th' Point." 

But Edward, who still looked and felt very queer, neither 
answered nor turned his head. As they returned to the inn, 
Job asked whether Mr. Prince did not think that he and his 
mate had earned the reward. 

" I'll tell you that after the inquest," answered Edward, 
who was recovering his composure. 

" What has that to do with it t " 

"The jury may decide that the body is not my brother's ? " 

" Not unless you swears as it isn't. Me and my mates, we 
know as it is. We saw him afore the change set in ; and 
you know it too, though he does look different. Don't you, 
now ? " 

" Oh, yes, I think it is my poor brother's body — certainly." 

" Of course you do. So does everybody in these parts. 
Let me see, didn't you say as he went into the water stark 
naked ? " 

" I did." 

*' Well, he was found so. That's another proof, and you 



230 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

may take your davy as the jury will say as you and me 
says." 

" In that case you will get the reward right away. I have 
it with me" (tapping his pocket). 

Old Job proved a true prophet. On the following day the 
coroner's jury viewed the body — Edward, to his great dis- 
comfort, being present — and heard the evidence. The local 
medical practitioner said the body was that of a person who 
had been drowned, and remained in the water from twenty 
to thirty days, and gave minute particulars touching his prob- 
able height and age, the color of his eyes and hair and the 
rest. Job and his two mates described the finding of the 
body, which they recognized at once as that of Mr. Charles 
Prince. It was quite without clothes and the face was very 
little changed. Edward gave his account of the way in 
which his brother lost his life, and said that to the best of 
his belief the body which they had viewed was that of 
Charles Prince. 

In this sense the jury rendered their verdict, and when the 
necessary formalities had been observed the body was placed 
at the disposal of the relatives, and Job and his mates re- 
ceived their reward. 

After telegraphing to his mother and Lillywhite, and mak- 
ing such arrangements as the circumstances required, Ed- 
ward returned to Peele. He did not call at the Pines. The 
Lincolns were in London. When their guests were gone the 
loneliness and associations of the place became unbearable. 
Mrs. Lincoln moped, and Olive, despite heroic efforts to 
" keep up," began to droop. As she could not go out with- 
out being continually reminded of Charlie and his terrible 
end she stayed in, and though she never complained, her 
mother could see that the girl suffered — how much she never 
knew. The wound was deeper than she supposed, and while 
they remained at Whitebeach was unlikely to heal. The 
sooner they got away the better. So one morning at break- 
fast, Mrs. Lincoln, after observing that if she stayed there 
longer she should go melancholy mad, said she had made 
up her mind to start for London that very day, and told her 
daughter to pack up " right away." Her idea was to keep 
Olive from brooding, and when they got to town she called 
on all the people she knew and accepted all the invitations 
she received, and went in generally for all the gaieties that 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 231 

were going on. To Olive this was repugnant ; her mood 
was not gay. She would much rather have been allowed to 
brood in peace ; but as her lover's death had tamed her high 
spirits and impaired her power of resistance, and she knew 
that her mother meant kindly, she submitted passively, 
though often reluctantly, to her guidance. And Mrs. Lin- 
coln's management was so far good that it distracted Olive's 
thoughts, took her out of herself, and little by little dulled 
the sharpness of her sorrow. 

Among other friends whom they met in London was Mr. 
Marsh, who had just returned from the Continent. In her 
usual straightforward way Mrs. Lincoln asked him to be her 
second trustee. At the outset he demurred, on the ground 
that her settled fortune being invested in England she had 
better choose somebody who was sure to remain in the 
country, and he was not sure ; but when she pointed out 
that as the money was in consols, and had to stay in consols, 
and as Edward Prince attended to all the details, there was 
really nothing in the world for him to do except sign a deed, 
he consented — stipulating, however, that a draft of the in- 
strument in question, together with the deed of settlement, 
should be submitted to his own solicitor. Mr. Marsh had 
every confidence in Mr. Prince, but, as he aptly observed, 
business was business, and he made it a rule never to sign 
an important document without taking legal advice. 

To this condition Mrs. Lincoln gave a willing assent, and 
wrote straightway to Edward Prince, advising him what 
she had done, and that he would presently receive a com- 
munication from Mr. Marsh's solicitor, as, in effect, he did, 
a few days later. Mr. Bunch, the gentleman in question, 
acting on instructions received from his client, asked for a 
draft of the proposed deed of appointment, together with a 
statement of the precise amount of Mrs. Lincoln's fortune 
and the manner of its investment. 

This letter gave Edward a bad quarter of an hour. As 
yet, though he had told Mrs. Lincoln (no witness being pre- 
sent) that her fortune was still invested in Government stock, 
he had not committed himself to the assertion in writing. So 
far, he had been guilty of no offence more serious than a 
supprcssio veri (the lie, being incapable of proof, did not 
count), and, to make a positively false statement under his 
own hand, besides being dangerous, would do violence to his 



232 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

legal conscience. Wherefore he wrote a polite letter to Mr. 
Bunch, to the effect that owing to the tragical death of his 
brother (of which his correspondent might have heard), he 
was for the moment quite unable to attend to business, but 
as soon after the funeral as possible the matter should have 
his attention. 

Edward believed that this would keep Mr. Bunch quiet for 
a few days, probably for two or three weeks, or until Mrs. 
Lincoln (to whom he forwarded a copy of his letter) moved 
Mr. Marsh to further inquiry. 

The funeral was conducted very quietly, only a few of the 
more intimate friends of the family being invited, and as the 
lead coffin had been soldered up at Whitebeach, none of 
them saw the body. Seeing that the body had been nearly 
a month in the water the soldering was absolutely necessary, 
explained Edward, and when his mother expressed a wish to 
take a last look at the poor boy, he said significantly, that 
if she wished to retain a pleasant recollection of him she had 
better not, and the subject dropped. 

Nobody saw in the proceeding anything strange — save 
Lillywhite, who, collating it with certain facts wliereof he 
alone was cognizant, regarded it as suspicious, and by way 
of setthng his doubts — or confirming them, as the case 
might be — betook himself on the following Saturday to 
Whitebeach, put up at the Wheat Sheaf, foregathered with 
Job and a few of his fellows, drank and " stood " a good 
many glasses of rum, and the next evening returned to Peele 
with an aching head, yet well content withal, for he had ac- 
quired information which gave him something to think about 
and might prove useful. 

Meanwhile, Edward Prince had written a second letter to 
the Assurance Company, in which he enclosed documentary 
evidence of his brother's death and inquired, rather peremp- 
torily when it would suit them to pay the amount due under 
the policy. 

By return of post came a highly-satisfactory reply from 
Mr. Cutter. His directors had passed the claim, and at the 
end of the current month a check for fifteen thousand 
pounds would be at Mr. Prince's disposal, as surviving part- 
ner m the firm, according to the conditions of the policy. 

At the same time Edward received a letter from Mr. Bunch 
asking when he might expect the draft of the deed cf appoint- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



233 



ment, as promised. His client was going on a journey and 
would like to have the business settled as soon as possible. 
Edward, now as prompt as he had previously been dilatory, 
sent Mr. Bunch the document by return of post, and inti- 
mated that as soon as Mr, Marsh signified his approval of the 
draft he would have it engrossed ; and the Government stock 
in which the trust fund was invested, now standing in his 
name and his mother's should be transferred to Mr. Marsh 
and himself. 

" A narrow shave," thought Edward as he signed the letter, 
" a very narrow shave. I could not have put them off more 
than another week, or a fortnight at the outside." 

" Thank God ! " exclaimed his mother fervently, when he 
told her that the broken trust had been reinstated and there 
was nothing to fear. " Thank God ! It seems almost prov- 
idential, don't you think so, dear ? " 

Her son made no answer ; he doubted whether Providence 
had any hand in the affair ; and to do Mrs. Prince justice, 
she was just then thinking less of Charlie's death than immi- 
nent danger narrowly escaped and a husband's name saved 
from dishonor ; while Edward's thoughts were of a bright 
day and a sunlit sea, a boat gliding before the wind, two 
brothers fiercely wrangling and 

" You shiver dear, don't you feel well } " asked his mother 
anxiously. 

" I have got a little chill, I think — perhaps a drop of 
brandy " 

And with that he went to the sideboard, filled a large wine 
glass with cognac and drank it neat. 



234 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

LILLYWniTE LEARNS ANOTHER SECRET. 

Things seldom fall out as we anticipate ; provisions, like 
friends, are apt to prove untrue, and even when the wish 
fathered by the thought comes to pass the result does not 
always harmonize with our hopes. Edward Prince and his 
mother had escaped a great danger by the skin of their teeth, 
they had shot the rapids and were floating down stream in 
smooth water and fair weather. Yet they were not happy. 
Released from incessant preoccupation and impending peril, 
and having leisure for thought, Mrs. Prince began to count 
the cost of her deliverance — years of corroding care, two 
precious lives, an abiding sense of remorse and a lonely old 
age. This was not quite logical. Edward had assured her, 
and she could not gainsay, that the broken trust was not even 
remotely responsible for Charlie's death, and she was con- 
tinually assuring herself that she had acted for the best and 
themeans were justified by the end. But the human mind is 
as little ruled by logic as life itself, and Mrs. Prince could no 
more help connecting Charlie's death with her husband's 
oifence than hush " the still small voice," when in the watches 
of the night it accused her of having been his evil genius and 
the indirect cause of his death. 

And Edward, though he no longer trembled and turned 
pale when a friend tapped him on the shoulder, was not the 
man he had been. Some people said he was a better man, 
and in the sense that his manners were softer and he bore 
himself less arrogantly than of yore this was true. He was 
also more sensitive ; the mere mention of his brother's name 
sufficing to make him change countenance, and cause him 
acute distress, from v/hich most people concluded that the 
two had been devotedly attached to each other. 

In addition to qualms of conscience (if he were troubled 
with any) Edward had two serious preoccupations. One was 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 235 

Lillywhite. He would fain have sent the old clerk away. 
But as yet he did not dare. True, Lillywhite, although he 
knew a great deal, could prove nothing, and a discharged 
employe', who told tales " out of doors," was discredited by 
the very fact. All the same, Edward did not want people's 
tongues to be set wagging about him and his affairs so soon 
after Charlie's death ; and Lillywhite had been so long in the 
office, was so popular with clients, and so well known in the 
town, that it would be impolitic to dismiss him without good 
cause or plausible pretext, and at present he had neither. So, 
though it fretted him to be continually under the observation 
of a man who already knew too much, and had a wonderful 
capacity for ferreting out secrets, there was nothing for it 
but to bide his time and wait for an opportunity of getting 
rid of him. 

His other preoccupation was Olive, whom he probably loved 
with a passion which surprised even himself, and whom on 
merely money grounds it was still well worth his while to 
marry. She was a fine girl, and would make a wife to be proud 
of ; and well dowered, too. Topper, Sandboy, and Perry- 
winkle, urged by Mr. Jump, had pushed on the winding-up 
of the Chancery suit so energetically that it was going to be 
ended much sooner than anybody had thought possible, and 
matters were so far advanced that Edward could form a pretty 
shrewd guess as to the value of the salvage. There would be 
a thousand a year for Olive, when she was of age, and after 
her mother's death an additional fifteen hundred — not enough 
to make the girl a great heiress, yet more than enough to 
make her a very good match. 

Edward never went to town that he did not call on the 
Lincolns, by whom he was always welcomed, and whom he 
naturally did his best to please — of course, with special ref- 
erence to Miss Lincoln — and not v/ithout success. He 
looked so careworn, his manner was so quiet and subdued, 
and on the rare occasions when Charlie's name was men- 
tioned showed so much emotion that Olive was moved to 
compassion. True, she had never liked Edward, and he had 
not always been as good to Charlie as he might have been. 
All the same, he was Charlie's brother and sorrowed for him, 
and on that ground alone had a right to her sympathy and 
respect. Whereupon it fell out that at this time Olive was 
kinder to Edward Prince than she had ever been before, 



236 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

thereby unwittingly confirming him in the belief that he might 
win her love. 

One day he brought the ladies an invitation from his mother 
to spend a few weeks with them at Holmcroft — if they did not 
mind being very quiet, for though several months were gone 
since Charlie's death, Mrs. Prince still led a secluded life, 
neither entertaining nor "going out." But she should be 
delighted to see her old friends, and felt sure that a visit from 
them would do her good. 

" And we want something to cheer us up," added Edward 
plaintively. " We are frightfully dull now at Holmcroft. I 
don't think I should be exaggerating if I said dismal — so 
different from what it used to be." 

Mrs. Lincoln said she would leave it to Olive. The summer 
was nearly over, and for her own part she should be glad to 
spend a few days at Holmcroft before they went on the 
Continent, and there were certain business matters arising 
out of the Chancery suit which could perhaps be dealt with 
quite as conveniently at Peele as in London. 

Here Edward observed that in the course of the ensuing 
month the suit would probably come to an end, and that in 
the meantime he should have frequent occasion to consult 
Mrs. Lincoln. 

" All the more reason for accepting your mother's kind 
invitation. What do you say, Olive ? " 

" Certainly, let us go," returned Olive with seeming cheer- 
fulness, though she would rather not have gone, knowing 
that the visit would revive painful memories, and be more of 
a trial than a pleasure, but her mother evidently desired to 
go, and it would have been ungracious to refuse Mrs. Prince's 
invitation. 

So Edward went home, if not exactly exuberant, better in 
spirits than he had felt for some time. Olive's kindness and 
ready acceptance of his mother's invitation were distinctly 
encouraging ; and if a favorable occasion should present 
itself during her stay it might be well to put the momentous 
question which he had resolved to ask. But he would have 
to mind what he was about, and look before he leaped. It 
was not very long since " the accident," and besides expos- 
ing him to a rebuff a premature declaration might be fatal 
to his hopes. Olive had a strong will, and if she once said 
" no" it would not be easy to persuade her to say "yes." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 237 

Anyhow, her presence would brighten the house, and it 
needed brightening. At the best, his mother was not a lively 
companion, and sometimes she kept her room two or three 
days running. One night, shortly before his last visit to 
London, he had dined alone, his mother being indisposed, 
and after the butler had left him to himself Edward leaned 
back in his chair and thought of the past and of the home 
and the family as they had been in days gone by. In imag- 
ination he saw his father at the head of the table, and heard 
his hearty laugh as he told a merry tale. Jack had come 
down from Liverpool for the Christmas holidays, and opposite 
to him sat Charlie, full of health and high spirits. It was all 
as objectively real as if they had been there in the flesh, and 
he was about to make an observation, when a piteous cry 
rang in his ears : " Ned ! Ned ! " and the bright face before 
him changed into the hideous semblance of the thing he had 
seen in the coastguard station at Whitebeach. Edward, who 
had fallen into a doze, awoke groaning, his hair standing on 
end and his face streaming with perspiration. 

After this, whenever his mother could not dine with him, 
he dined at Peele, and, taking papers home with him, wrought 
far into the night. If he could help it he would never be 
alone, and work was the best substitute for company. 

Mrs. Prince, on the other hand, did not seem to care for 
company, and only invited the Lincolns for her son's sake 
and to afford him an opportunity of paying his court to Olive ; 
for though she had latterly given little thought to her old 
match-making project she wanted to see him happily married, 
and knew that he had set his heart on marrying Miss Lincoln. 

Olive's presence brightened the house, as Edward had 
expected, for the girl was fair to see, but she contributed far 
less to its gaiety than her mother, who bustled about con- 
tinually, and did all she could to rouse her hostess from her 
torpor and gloom — kept her in talk, made Olive read to them, 
went out with her in the pony carriage. Edward played the 
part of host to perfection, came home early, was affable at 
breakfast and urbane at dinner, read to the ladies afterwards, 
or made up a rubber, as they preferred, and was assiduously 
attentive to Mrs. Lincoln and her daughter, especially the 
daughter. 

" How much he is changed — and improved — quite another 
man, I declare," observed Mrs. Lincoln more than once. 



238 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Sorrow sours some people, it has softened Edward Prince." 

" Yes," answered Olive listlessly, " he is very much nicer 
than he used to be." 

Occasionally Mrs. Prince put a good word in for Edward, 
saying what a good son he was, how well the office was thriv- 
ing under his admirable management, doing better than it 
had ever done before, and how highly people spoke of him. 

But these laudations bored Olive more than they served 
her would-be swain ; they reminded her, too, that though he 
might be a good son he had not always been a kind brother. 
All the same, Edward flattered himself that his attentions 
were telling, yet before " trying his luck" he looked for an 
opportunity of making a little more sure as to the precise 
effect which they had produced in Olive's mind. 

The opportunity came, as opportunities always do to those 
who know how to wait. She laad made some casual remark 
about Holmcroft being lonely. 

" Lonely ! You may well say so ; more, it is dull, deadly 
dull. So different from what it used to be," he answered 
with a heart-rending sigh and a woebegone look. " My 
mother is very good — the best woman in the world, I some- 
times think — and bears up wonderfully, as you see ; but at 
her age, and after all that has happened, you cannot expect 
her to be very cheerful, and going into society or even receiv- 
ing visitors — unless they are old friends, like you and your 
mother — is really beyond her strength. I want somebod}'^ 
nearer my own age in the house, some bright presence — Miss 
Lincoln." 

" Your mother should have a companion — or you might 
marry." 

A more impulsive man would have tried his luck there 
and then. But Edward Prince, being neither impulsive nor 
a fool, well knew that if Olive had divined the significance 
of his words, the observation would not have been made; 
and her manner was so unconcerned and void of self-con- 
sciousness as to render it evident that, as yet, she had not 
even so much as thought of him as a possible pretcndaiit. 

" A very good idea ; I'll speak to my mother about it," 
he replied, with a somewhat constrained smile. " As for my 
marrying, a good deal would depend on whom I married, 
don't you think ? " 

" Everything, I should say." 



THE rRIJVCES OF PEELE. 



239 



And then, as if she did not find the subject interesting, 
Olive took up a book, which she had laid down a few minutes 
previously and went on with her reading. Yet, though the 
had failed, Edward was not discouraged. He believed that 
the rather broad hints he had dropped would bear fruit, and 
that the next time he tried a similar experiment the result 
would be more satisfactory. 

A few days after this conversation, Olive, on her way 
through the fields to Peele, fell in with Lillywhite, who had 
been to a neighboring farm on office business. She was 
glad to see the old fellow, and spoke to him kindly. After 
exchanging greetings they walked on together. 

" It was very good of you to send me those letters, Mr. 
Lillywhite. You rendered me a great service," she said frankl)^ 

" How can I thank " 

" Don't mention it. You lay me under an obligation by al- 
lowing me to render you a service, and pray consider me 
always at your service. I am yours to command, both for 
your own sake and that of poor Mr. Charles." 

Olive's eyes filled with tears. 

" Oh, wasn't it terrible ! " she murmured. " Even yet can 
I hardly realize that — he is not here." 

" You are not the only one who misses him. Miss Lincoln. 

Everybody at Peele misses him, I think. And the office 
isn't the same. He was always so bright and cheery — like 
sunshine in the place — and kind to everybody." 

Olive liked to hear Charlie praised by one who knew him 
so well, yet it distressed her to talk about him, and for a 
minute or two they walked on in silence. But she had some- 
thing to ask Lillywhite, painful though it might be. Charlie's 
refusal to act as her mother's trustee was still a mystery to 
which she had not found a clue. The clerk might be able 
to help her to one. 

" I can trust you, Mr. Lillywhite," she said, in a tone 
which implied that she meant, " Can I trust you .-' " 

" Absolutely, Miss Lincoln. Hundreds have done, and 
not one has ever had occasion to regret having trusted 
Andrew Lillywhite. With a secret ? " (dropping his voice to 
a whisper.) 

" Yes. The last time I ever talked with Mr. Charles — 
it was only an hour or two before he set out on the fatal 
excursion from which he never returned — he said that he 



240 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

should have to decline becoming one of my mother's trustees 
— why, he could not tell me." 

" But he had agreed. He told me that he considered it an 
honor. He drafted the deed of appointment himself, and 
took it with him to Whitebeach." 

" That makes the refusal all the more inexplicable." 

" Of course it does. And he gave you no reason ? " 

" No, only that he couldn't without breaking his word ; 
and he seemed very much distressed." 

" Very much distressed was he ? God bless me ! It is 
very strange. I was never more surprised in my life. To 
think that Mr. Charles should refuse to act as your mother's 
trustee ! " 

" He had not actually refused, but he said he would have 
to." 

" Ah ! " 

" I see how it is," he thought. " Ned told him all, under a 
pledge of secrecy, and the brave, honest lad refused to be- 
come trustee to a fraud. It's as clear as daylight, and looks 
bad for his brother, damnably bad." 

But he had no intention of enlightening Olive. The old 
fellow hoarded secrets as a miser hoards gold pieces, and 
parted with them as reluctantly. Moreover, if he told Olive, 
and she told her mother, there would be the deuce to pay, 
and he should lose his hold over Edward. 

" I thought you might have some idea," said Olive, after 
another spell of silence. 

" Not the least. Miss Olive, not the least. In fact, I am 
quite flabbergasted. However, I suppose you have not men- 
tioned aught of this to anybody else — Mr. Prince, for ex- 
ample." 

" Certainly not. How could I ? " 

" Oh, yes, of course. I was not thinking. I beg pardon 
for asking such a foolish question. You are quite right, it 
is a safe principle to keep things to yourself. And between 
ourselves, I rather doubt, you know, that Mr. Prince was — 
ah — very warmly attached to his brother." 

" I have had similar doubts myself. But he seems to feel 
Charlie's death very much. His lips quiver at the mere 
mention of his brother's name." 

" Well, when you have not been as kind to a person as 
you might have been, and that person goes over to the great 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 241 

majority, it would be strange if you did not feel it — and ap- 
pearances are deceptive sometimes, Miss Lincoln." 

" And you really cannot think of any clue to this mystery, 
]\Ir. Lillywhite ? " 

" Not yet. It has come upon me so suddenly. But I 
will put on my considering cap — people are pleased to say 
that I am good at guessing secrets — and if I find anything 
out I shall let you know. And if I can serve 5^ou in any 
way let me know. But don't write to the office, please. 
Here is my private address (producing a card) and as I am 
a bachelor you may write without reserve." 

" Why more so than if you were married ? " 

" Do you think if I had a wife my letters would be sacred } 
Never tell a husband anything you don't want the wife to 
know." 

" Nor a wife anything you don't want her husband to 
know, I suppose ? " 

" That is not so sure. I have heard of such a thing as a 
woman having secrets from her husband." 

" I am afraid you are somewhat of a cynic, Mr. Lilly- 
white." 

" And if I am — forty-five )^ears in lawyers' offices is 
enough to make a saint cynical — and you know that the Old 
Book says : ' The human heart is deceitful above all things 
and desperately wicked.' I don't go any further than that. 
We are nearly at Peele, Miss Lincoln." 

" You think we had better separate." 

" It would be as well. Somebody might inform Mr. Prince 
that we had been seen in conversation, and being of a curi- 
ous turn he might want to know what we were talking about 
and that might lead to complications. One cannot be too 
cautious." 

" You are right. I will linger in this green meadow a few 
minutes while you go on. Good-bye, Mr. Lillywhite. Thank 
you so much." 

" Yours to command. Miss Lincoln. If I can be of any 
use don't fail to let me know. Good-bye." 

So they shook hands and parted — not to meet again until 
Mr. Lillywhite had made his term of service in lawyers' 
office a full half-century. 

16 



242 THE PRINCES OE PEELE-l 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

EDWARD TRIES HIS LUCK. 

The Lincolns stayed longer at Holmcroft than they had 
originally intended, partly out of a desire to please Mrs. 
Prince, who found their conjpany so pleasant that she was 
loth to let them leave, partly because the end of the Chan- 
cery suit was longer in coming than Edward had led them 
to expect — and Mrs. Lincoln wanted to see the end before 
going abroad. He laid the blame on Perrywinkle, while 
Perrywinkle, in answer to the urgings of Mr. Jump, who 
never let him alone, laid the blame on Prince. 

Perrywinkle was right. Edward, who no more wanted his 
guests to go than his mother did, and had persuaded Mrs. 
Lincoln that it would be prejudicial to her interests to leave 
England before the business was wound up, procrastinated 
unconscionably, driving Perrywinkle wild, and making the 
usually placid Mr. Jump mad, by suggesting imaginary 
difficulties and raising points that were not relevant to the 
issue. 

But everything is fair in love and war, and Edv/ard was 
deeper in love than ever ; the more he saw of Olive the better 
he liked her, and the longer she stayed the stronger grew his 
desire for her to stay altogether. Her mere presence sufficed 
to chase away the dark phantoms which so often haunted his 
mind, and he looked forward with dismay to the time when 
he should be left alone with his mother. Yet though Olive 
was so necessary to his happiness — rather because she wa.s 
so necessary — he hesitated more than ever to ask her to decide 
his fate. The result miglit be her immediate departure from 
Holmcroft. And he could not read her. Her manner and 
speech were not unkind, but whether her real feeling for him 
was more or less than kind he was unable to determine. 

The fact was that Olive had altered. Charlie's death, the 
necessity of hiding her feelings and seeming unconcerned 
though her heart Avas heav}^, the habit of introspection to 
which this state of things gave rise, and her sojourn in Loa- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 243 

don, had developed her character more than as many years 
of ordinary country life would have done. The light-hearted 
girl with laughing eyes was become a self-contained young 
woman, whose refined and thoughtful face no longer reflected 
every passing emotion. 

If Edward Prince had understood this, or even vaguely 
surmised the true cause of the change which he had not failed 
to note, he could have been under no misapprehension as to 
her sentiments, nor thought of speaking to her of love while 
she still mourned for his brother. 

When his device for detaining his guests had been in 
operation something less than a month there came a letter 
from Mr. Jump to Mrs. Lincoln, complaining of Mr. Prince's 
procrastination and of the unnecessar}^ delays which he was 
interposing to the conclusion of the suit. Mr. Jump feared 
that unless the business were settled " right away," as per 
arrangement, it would have to be fought out in the Law 
Courts, in which case there would not be a " red cent " for 
any of them. 

Mrs. Lincoln handed this letter to her solicitor. 

" It is really too bad," she exclaimed. " Those Perrywinkle 
people won't hurry up at all. They have got a good thing 
and mean to stick to it to the last minute, and now try to 
make out that the fault lies with you. I wonder I\Ir. Jump 
can be so blind. How shall I answer him ? " 

" Don't answer at all. Leave it to me. I'll write him on 
your behalf." 

" Do ! and be sure you tell him the truth." 

'• The game is nearly played out," thought Edward. " How- 
ever, by speaking Jump fair and promising largely I may keep 
it going another month." 

But on the following day there came another letter, which 
brought matters to an immediate crisis. It was from America, 
and informed Mrs. Lincoln that her uncle Amos, a gentleman 
who lived in Vermont, desired greatly to see her, and as he 
was old and feeble and obviously failing, it was desirable for 
her (if she were minded to comply with his request) to come 
as soon as might be. 

" I shall go, of course," said IMrs. Lincoln, after she had 
imparted the purport of the communication to Mrs. Prince 
and her son. " Uncle Amos is my father's only surviving 
brother, and I should never forgive myself if I did not see 



2 44 THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 

him before he died. You must put that business through 
within the next ten days, Edward. I'll write to Mr. Jump 
myself, and ask him as a personal favor to stir Perrywinkle 
up. Anyhow, I shall write to-day to engage passages in the 
Cunarder which sails next Saturday week." 

" Do you propose to take Olive with you ? " 

" Of course I do. You surely weren't thinking I should 
leave her behind. Why, she hasn't seen her native land for 
ten years or more. If she stops in Europe much longer she 
will forget she is an American." 

It was a great blow for Edward Prince. Mrs. Lincoln's 
original plan had been to winter in the Riviera, return to 
England in the spring, and make a trip to America at a period 
which she described indifferently as " later on" and " later in 
the year," meaning thereby the year next ensuing. The 
Riviera was not so far away that Edward could not have 
found an excuse for a journey thither, either before or after 
Christmas, and Mrs. Lincoln had promised to make another 
visit to Holmcroft before going to America. 

But in America Olive would be quite out of reach ; heaven 
only knew when or whether he should see her again, and it 
could not be expected that a girl so good-looking and hand- 
somely dowered would be without suitors or remain long un- 
married. It was clear, therefore, that if he desired to win 
her he must speak quickly. 

In the meantime he would try to better his chances with 
the daughter by obliging the mother in the matter of the law- 
suit. He told Mrs. Lincoln that he should make the arrange- 
ment of her affairs his sole business until he had brought it 
to a satisfactory conclusion. He would go to London by the 
night mail, see both Perrywinkle and Jump, and insist on the 
compromise being forthwith carried out in its integrity ; and 
he thought he could guarantee that the settlement would be 
completed before her departure. 

Mrs. Lincoln seemed greatly pleased ; and when he re- 
turned from London two days later, with a pile of papers, and 
informed her that when she had executed them the suit 
would not only be ended, but every detail arranged, so that 
she might leave with an easy mind, he received earnest 
thanks as well from Olive as her mother. 

" It is very good of you to give so much time to our affairs 
when you are so busy," said Olive, warmly. 



THE PRIXCES OE PEELE. 



245 



" Good ! I should think so," added Mrs. Lincoln, heartily. 
" Nobody else would have taken so much trouble, and I don't 
think there is another lawyer in the kingdom who could have 
put the business through so soon and saved so much out of 
the fire. You should go to America, Edward, \^■e want 
men like you, who are both honest and capable. You would 
make a fortune ; you might be anything you like." 

Edward heard this with a grave face — whatever he may 
have felt — and the thought crossed his mind that to win 
Olive he would even go to the land where honest and capable 
men, like himself, were so much in request. 

The Lincolns were to leave Peele on the following Friday 
morning, en route for Liverpool ; and on the Thursday even- 
ing, Olive, having finished her packing, took a turn in the 
garden. Holmcroft looked charming. The setting sun, 
shining through a fantastically shaped mass of diaphanous 
cloud, bathed the old house, with its tiled roof, high gables 
and ivy-mantled chimney-stacks, in a flood of crimson light ; 
the kine were lowing in the fields, and crowds of cawing 
rooks coming home to roost in the tall elms down by the 
fish-pond. Yes, Holmcroft was a dear old place, and so 
pleasant and peaceful withal, that it seemed as though all 
who lived there should be happy. Yet none of them — none 
of those we know — were happy. At the best, parting is not 
a time of joy, and Olive was as sorry to leave Holmcroft as 
she had been to leave All Hallows. 

The two places, and the neighborhood of Peele, were as- 
sociated with the chief events of her life, hallowed to her by 
memories which she should never forget. She was going to 
a land which, though her own and a land to be proud of, she 
only just remembered, which at first would seem very strange 
to her, and where, albeit she had many kinsfolk, she had no 
friends. 

What had the future in store for her ? Would it ever be 
her lot to revisit the fair country where she had known 50 
much, both of joy and sorrow ? And then there came to 
Olive's memory the pathetic lines : 

" And the stately ships go on 

To their haven under the hill ; 
But oh for the touch of a vanished hand, 
And the sound of a voice that is still. 



246 THE PRIiXCES OF PEELE. 

Break, break, break. 

At the foot of thy crags, oh. Sea, 
But the tender grace of a day that is dead 

Will never come back to me." 

Slowly, and in pensive mood, Olive walked down the 
avenue. On reaching the spot where Mr. and Mrs. Prince 
had parted on the day which proved to be the most mo- 
mentous of their lives, she turned and began to retrace her 
steps, and was presently overtaken by Edward, who looked 
fagged and anxious, as if he had had a hard day's work ; for 
which reason, and because she remembered only just then 
that he had lately been very pleasant, and deserved well, 
both of her mother and herself, she returned his greeting so 
graciously and sympathetically that he felt quite encouraged. 

"To-morrow you go," he said softly. "This is your last 
night at Holmcroft. You are doubtless pleased to think you 
will so soon see your native land." 

" I suppose I ought to be. One's country is one's country, 
after all, but I have got to like England, and 1 am not sure 
whether the pain of leaving it won't be greater than the 
pleasure of returning to America." 

" But you will come back ? " 

" Who can tell ? I may find work to do there. So far, I 
have lived only for myself. Yes, I am very sorry to leave 
Holmcroft. I never stay long at a place that I don't get 
attached to it, though I have been such a rolling stone ; and 
everybody here has been so kind to us — your father and 
mother and — yourself (she had nearly said Charlie). We 
shall never, never forget our dear friends at Holmcroft." 

" I am glad to hear you say so. And I shall never forget 
you. It is no use, I cannot keep it back," he exclaimed, 
passionately. " Olive, dear Olive, don't you see that I love 
you, aye, the very ground you tread on ? Don't think ill of 
me — I did not mean — if you had not been going away I 
should not have spoken to you of love so soon after my 
father's death — and Charlie's " 

" Ah, my poor boy ! Why did you leave him to perish ? " 

This terrible question, provoked by the startling sudden- 
ness of Edward's avowal, and his mention of Charlie's name 
in the same breath, voiced a thought she had conceived at the 
time of his death and afterwards put aside as unjust, the 
thought that had Edward done for his brother what Charlie, 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 247 

in like circumstances, had done for him, her lover m.ight 
have been saved. But the words were no sooner spoken than 
she bitterly rued them. 

She had both betrayed herself and made a charge she 
could not justify, for which, indeed, she had absolutely no 
excuse. Their eifect on Edward frightened her. He leaned 
against a tree, pale and trembling, and with lips convulsively 
twitching. 

" Why do you say that ? Good God, what do you mean ? " 
he cried hoarsely. 

" I beg your pardon, I am very sorry. I did not know what 
1 said — I did not mean to hurt you — but you surprised me 
so much — speaking of love, and Charlie only just dead — that 
I spoke impulsively and uncharitably. It was wrong and I 
beg your pardon." 

'' Only just dead ! Why, it is five months since — and I 
had no idea you felt his death so much," returned Edward 
pulling himself together. 

" Yes. I felt it very much. We were play-fellows, and had 
always been such good friends." 

" But now that you know my feelings, how dearlj^ I love 
you, cannot you give me some hope ? We both loved Charlie, 
we both mourn for him ; a common sorrow is a bond of sym- 
pathy." 

" Give you some hope ! That means encouragement to 
believe that some day I may return your love ? " 

" Yes, that is all I ask. I will wait — yea, I will serve for 
you as long as Jacob served for Rachel. For heaven's sake, 
Olive, don't leave me without hope." 

He pleaded so earnestly and looked so pitiful that Olive 
was touched, and regretted more than ever the cruel words 
which she had just spoken. 

" How can I hold out hopes that I know can never be 
realized ? It would be wrong," she said wistfully. 

" But perhaps in a year or two, or even in three or four." 

" How can I tell what my feelings will be three or four 
years hence ? But I doubt whether they will alter much. If 
I know myself I shall never love any man." 

" Well, will you promise that while you are in America you 
will not engage yourself ? " 

" By what right ? " demanded Olive, indignantly. 



248 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I beg your pardon. I forgot myself. I was presuming 
too much," quoth Edward, humbly. 

" You have no right to make such a request. But I owe 
you reparation for the hasty words I spoke just now, and 
gratitude for your honest and able management of my 
mother's affairs ; and if it be any satisfaction to you I may 
say that I shall certainly not engage myself to anybody until 
I have revisited England and seen Holmcroft again." 

" You are very good," murmured Edward, who was in a 
humor to be thankful for small mercies. " And you forgive 
me, do you not ? We are friends ? " 

Olive gave him her hand, Edward raised it respectfully to 
his lips, and the two walked silently towards the house. 



THE PRJXCES OF PEELE. 249 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

FROM JACK. 

For three or four days after the departure of his guests 
Edward Prince's mind was in a continual turmoil. He could 
think of nothing but Olive. One moment he accused her 
of being a heartless flirt, the next himself of being a fool. 
Why should he be so infatuated about one particular young 
woman ? There were others quite as good, whom he could 
have for the asking. And he was conscious of having cut 
a ridiculous figure ; he had been soft, absurdly soft, even to 
the extent of thanking her with " whispered humbleness " for 
a promise that amounted to nothing — which she might either 
deny or evade. He should have spoken sooner, and been 
bolder and more importunate. Olive was a girl who needed 
to be " stood up to " and mastered ; yet he had trembled in 
her presence and let her terrorize him by the mere mention 
of Charlie's name. 

Was it to be ever thus ? Was Charlie, alive or dead, to be 
always in his way ? 

" Why did you leave him to perish ? " 

Who could have put so absurd an idea into her head ? 

True, she had apologized, and explained that she had not 
meant it, but why had she said it .-' Was it possible that any- 
body else thought the same — that people were whispering to 
each other behind his back the question which, as Olive pro- 
tested, had sprung unbidden from her lips ? 

The thought was horror. 

But no ! He should have heard, and Olive would not have 
been so kind ; she was not the girl to let a man whom she 
considered capable of committing murder kiss her hand ; and 
Mrs. Lincoln believed in him as entirely as she had believed 
in his father. Why torment himself with a baseless fear ? 
Yet, try as he might, he could neither hypnotize his conscience 
nor dismiss Olive from his mind. 



250 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

His mother saw that he was unhappy and surmised the 
cause. Had he said anything to OUve, she asked. 

Edward told her what had passed (except, of course, the 
outburst about his brother). 

" Do you think she cared for Charlie .''" 

" I am sure she did." 

" I have suspected as much, myself. Well, in that case I 
do not see why you need be so despondent. Olive is not 
one of those frivolous girls who love lightly and forget quickly. 
It seems to me, that considering the circumstances she has 
given you as much encouragement as you could expect, ard 
if you will only have patience all will be well. If she had 
not had a very kindly feeling for you she would not have prom- 
ised to keep herself free until she sees you again. And 
they will not stay long in America. England is become their 
second home, and Mrs. Lincoln as good as said that she pre- 
fers this country to their own. The Lincolns will be here 
again next year, mark me if they are not, and if you play 
your cards properly Olive will be yours." 

Though Edward did not quite take all this as gospel, there 
was clearly something in it, and he felt distinctly encouraged 
thereby. But he found his chief solace in work, to which he 
applied himself with redoubled diligence, since whether he 
won Olive or not he was resolved to win a fortune. And 
there was every likelihood that he would succeed ; he made 
money in ways that his father never thought of and which, 
though he had thought of them, he would have disdained to 
adopt, and Edward's outgoings being very much less than 
his father's had been, he had a large surplus income, which 
he knew how to turn to good account. 

And presently he had a windfall, as startling and unex- 
pected as a dividend on a written-off bad debt, or a return of 
over-paid duty from the Income Tax Commissioners. One 
morning, while they were at breakfast, Mrs. prince received 
a letter, from which, as she opened it, a piece of paper fell, 
and fluttered to the floor. Edward picked it up. It was a 
first of exchange on Brown, Shipley, and Co., for two thou- 
sand pounds, drawn by an American bank in favor of Mrs. 
Dorothy I'rince. 

Mystiiied beyond measure, he glanced at his mother, and 
saw in her face a surprise greater than his own, and other 



THE PRIiXCES OF PEELE. 251 

feelings — bewilderment, incredulity, doubt, gladness — seemed 
to be strusjgling for the mastery. 

'• Oh, Edward ! " she cried, as she turned the last page and 
looked at the signature. 

" What is it 1 \\'hom is it from ? " 

" It is — I can hardly believe it — it is from Jack. Do you 
hear? It is from Jack. My boy ! My boy, whom I thought 
was dead or worse than dead. And he is doing well and 
sends money, and will send more, make full restitution, he 
says. Oh, such a letter, so loving and penitent." 

Her voice was broken with emotion, and tears were stream- 
ing down her cheeks. 

" Let nie see it." 

" After I have read it again. I must read it again. Oh, 
my dear Jack 1 " 

When Mrs. Prince had read the letter a second time she 
handed it to Edward. It was, as she had said, loving and 
penitent. Jack had heard of his father's death (he did not 
say how) and expressed bitter regret that he had not been a 
better son, and deep contrition for his past misconduct, which, 
he felt sure, must have embittered both his father's life and 
her own. Then he spoke of his last visit to Holmcroft, told 
how he had seen them at prayers and heard his mother men- 
tion his name, and how he had vowed that they should never 
hear of him again unless it were something good. This vow, 
with God's help, he had been enabled to fulfill. Paul Con- 
iston, for whose acquaintance he was indebted to " dear old 
Charlie," had put him in the way of good things, and he was 
engaged in a profitable mining enterprise, out of which he 
expected to make a fortune. If he succeeded he would re- 
pay every penny he owed the family, and as a beginning 
enclosed a draft for two thousand pounds, ^^'hen he first 
went to America he called himself Mark Darnley ; but not 
liking to sail under false colors he had resumed his true name 
and would try to do it as much honor in the future as he had 
done it dishonor in the past. He ended by entreating his 
mother to forgive him for the sorrow he had caused her and 
the wrong he had done, sent his love to Ned and Charlie, and 
said what pleasure it would give him to have a few lines from 
them now and then. But for their help God only knew what 
would have become of him. 

It was a manly, straightforward letter, yet humble and con- 



252 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

trite withal, in parts pathethic, and touched Edward more 
deeply than he had been touched for a long time. It galled 
him, too, for he felt that the despised Jack was behaving with 
a magnanimity of which he himself was incapable. 

" Who would have thought it 1 " he said, returning the letter 
to his mother. 

" Yes, who would have thought it .-* It is like one returning 
from the dead. I had mourned him as lost, hoped even never 
to hear of him again. And now ! Thank God, thank God ! 
If your father could only have known, and poor Charlie ! 
You see he does not know of Charlie's death. How noble 
of him to send this money. But he need not send any more, 
Edward, we don't want it." 

" It is not so much a question whether we want it as 
whether he ought to pay it. Think how much he cost father 
from first to last. What with insurance premiums, interest 
and one thing and another, more than twenty thousand pounds. 
But for him you and I should be much better off now, and it 
is evident, from the tone of the letter, that it will be a satis- 
faction to him to discharge the debt. I would let him pay 
it if I were you, and then, if you like, you can return him 
something, or take it into account when you make your will." 

" Well, perhaps you are right. All the same, I cannot quite 
reconcile myself to taking so much money from Jack when 
we don't need it. I shall write to him by the next mail ; so 
will you, won't you ? You have got the draft, I think ? " 

Edward said he had got the draft and would write to Jack, 
He knew that whatever money his mother received would 
come to him. They had a common purse, and she never 
either asked for receipts or demanded an account of his 
stewardship. Before the month was out the two thousand 
pounds, temporarily advanced to an impecunious, albeit sol- 
vent, client, was yielding increase at the rate of two hundred a 
year." 

Jack's resurrection raised Mrs. Prince's spirits as much as 
Charlie's death had depressed them. Besides gratifying her 
maternal love it gave her a new interest in life. The prodigal 
of whom she had once been so bitterly ashamed was become 
an occasion of pride. Edward had suggested the expediency 
of " keeping it quiet," but Mrs. Prince could not help mention- 
ing to one or two friends (in strict contidence) how well her 
eldest son was doing ; and a day or two later it was rumored 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 253 

in Peele that John Prince, who had been so long under a 
cloud, was making " a pile " in California, and sending money 
home for investment. 

About the same time Edward found something for which 
he had long looked in vain — a pretext for getting rid of 
Lillywhite — or, rather, Lillywhite found it for him. 

Nobody who looked at the managing clerk's nose, and it 
certainly invited observation, was likely to mistake him for a 
teetotaller ; on the other hand, nobody could justly accuse 
him of being intemperate, and when he said, and he was 
rather fond of saying it, that nobody had ever seen him the 
worse for liquor, nobody could contradict him. His favorite 
tipple was port " of character '" tawny, crusted, and old- 
bottled ; but as wine of this class (and he would have naught 
inferior) " came expensive," he could seldom indulge in it, 
and limited his allowance to a pint with his Sunday dinner. 
At other times he quenched his thirst with a certain brew of 
old ale locally known as "ramjam." 

One day a client, also a connoisseur of old port, whom he 
had helped to make an excellent bargain, took Lillywhite to 
luncheon at the Old Bull and gave him carte blancJie in the 
matter of wine. Lillywhite ordered two bottles of Croft's old 
tawny, at a guinea a bottle, and saw that they got them. 

" What do you say to another ? " asked the client when 
these had been drunk. " There isn't a headache in a hogs- 
head of it." 

Lillywhite nodded assent. He knew that he was wanted 
at the office, but the offer was too good to be refused. He 
might never have such a chance again. 

" I'll fetch it myself," quoth he ; " these waiter fellows are 
not to be trusted." 

" All right, old man ; and, I say, you may as well bring 
two w'hile you are about it." 

Lillywhite brought two. An hour later he left the client 
very much asleep on the sofa, and toddled off to the office, 
feeling as if his nose were on fire and his tongue had been 
turned into a Bologna sausage. 

" The governor wants you ; he has asked for you several 
times," said one of the clerks. 

Lillywhite walked confidently, and as steadily as he knew 
how, into his employer's room. 

" You have been a long time at your lunch, I think. It is 



254 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



past three. When is this writ of Picton's returnable ? " 
asked Edward sliarply. 

" Ask your grandmother, young man," said Lilly white, as 
he reeled into a chair. 

" Why, you are — you have been drinking." 

"Which I have, dear boy. Croft's tawny, twenty years in 
bottle ; but only two bottles and not a headache in a hogs- 
head of it, as Drinkwater says — only two bottles, two only, 
two for him, and two for me, at a guinea a bottle. Any 
advance on a guinea a bottle, any advance on twenty-one 
shillings for Croft's old tawny } Going, going, gone ! " 

And Lillywhite brought his fist down on Edward's table 
with a bang that capsized the inkstand and sent his papers 
flying all over the place. 

" This is shameful, utterly disgraceful ; a man of your age 
too ! " he exclaimed indignantly. " You must go home at 
once. I'll send for a cab." 

"All right, I'll go," said Lillywhite, who had just wit 
enough left to know that he was making a fool of himself. 
" I'll go. I go, thou goest, he goes. We go, ye or you go, 
they go. Two negatives destroy one another, or are equiva- 
lent to an affirmative, as Hickory, dickory dock, the cow 
jumped over the clock. O blessed shade of Lindley Mur- 
ray ! " 

" Will you go, please ? The cab is at the door. Jones 
will see you home." 

"Certainly. Of course. I'll go — over the water and over 
the lea and over the water to Charlie. I would if he wasn't 
under water, poor, dear boy. Lord, how I hate water. Ta- 
ta, Ned, ta-ta ! " 

"The old ruffian. Why, he is as drunk as a fiddler's sow," 
muttered Edward wrathfully. " But I have him on the hip 
this time. To-morrow he goes." 

The morrow came, and with it Lillyv/hite, penitent, 
se^dy, and ashamed. So soon as Mr. Prince arrived he went 
into the latter's room and offered a frank apology for his 
wandering from the path of sobriety, and, above all, for 
appearing in such a state at the office. 

" I am very sorry," he said ; " at my time of life I ought to 
have known better. My head isn't what it used to be. I 
cannot drink two bottles of port with impunity, as I could 
when you came of age. However, I know now. Nothing 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 255 

of the sort ever happened before, and it shall never happen 
again." 

" I'll take care it does not," returned Edward emphatically 
— " at any rate, in this office. Even your long services cannot 
atone for so grave an offence, to say nothing of your gross 
insults to myself. Our relations must cease, Mr. Lillywhite. 
Here is a check for three months' salary; you are only 
entitled to a month's." 

" What ! Do you mean to say that for a single offence, 
the first in thirty years, you are going to send me away with 
a quarter's salary 1 " 

" I do. Such an offence it is impossible to overlook." 

" Have you considered what the consequences will be, Mr. 
Prince ? " 

" One consequence will be that I shall engage a managing- 
clerk who will not come to the office drunk." 

'• And another that before the week is out all Peele will 
know that your father played hanky-panky tricks with Mrs. 
Lincoln's fortune, and that you and your mother, as his 
executors, were parties to the fraud." 

" If you make any such villainous statement, Lillywhite, 
I'll have you laid by the heels and prosecuted for slander." 

" It isn't a slander ; it's true." 

" You cannot prove it. Mrs. Lincoln's money is in Con- 
sols, and the papers are in that safe. I can show them to 
anybody." 

" The Bank of England keeps books, I suppose. It will 
be easy to show that your father sold out fifteen thousand 
pounds' worth of stock the week after your brother ran away 
from Liverpool, and that you bought the same amount with 
the insurance money. And there is something else." 

" What ? " 

" Charlie, like the honest lad he was, refused to be your 
co-trustee ; he wouldn't be a party to the fraud." 

This was a knock-down blow for Edward, and it was all 
he could do to maintain his self-possession. 

" I deny it ; it is not true," he said hotly. 

" It is true enough. All the same, I am not prepared to 
say that I can prove it. But that isn't all. There is still 
something else " 

" W^ell .? " 



256 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" That body you brought up from Whitebeach and laid in 
the family vault is not Charlie's." 

" Man, you lie ! It is his body." 

" I can prove different. You swore at the inquest that 
your brother dived into the water naked. The body found 
on the Horse Bank was clothed. In the fob was a watch 
with a name on it — and it is in my fob now." 

Edward leaned back in his chair, pale and trembling. 

" Well, how is it to be .'' Have I to go .'' " asked Lillywhite, 
after an interlude of silence. 

" Those rascally boatmen must have deceived me," observed 
Edward, in a low voice. " Howeyer, as you have been here 
such a long time, and that, we'll say no more about it. Let 
bygones be bygones." 

And with that he tore up the check and threw the frag- 
ments into the fire, and Lillywhite, smiling sardonically and 
wagging his great nose, went back to his desk. 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 257 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

olive's resolve. 

While Mrs. Lincoln went to Vermont, Olive stayed with 
the Oldburys, at Roxbury, a suburb of Boston. Hosea Old- 
bury was her father's first cousin, whose only unmarried 
daughter, Naomi, had been at All Hallows a few years pre- 
viously, and Olive was warmly welcomed and made much of. 
The Oldburys came of an old Puritan stock, and one of the 
family heirlooms and treasures was a Bible, which the first 
of the name to settle in New England had brought with him 
from Old England, in the year in which Oliver Cromwell 
died. 

Mr. Oldbury was a gentleman of something past sixty, 
with a rugged and powerful, yet not unkindly face ; his wife, 
a dear old lady with beautiful brown eyes and snow-white 
hair, and so genial and loving withal, that Olive had not 
been long in the house before she felt as if she had known 
" Cousin Rachel " all her life. 

The habits of the family were as regular as clockwork. 
They began the day early. Breakfast at half-past seven to 
the minute. Near Mr. Oldbury's plate was a Bible, from 
which, before beginning the meal, he read a few verses ; then 
he said a short extempore prayer. At eight he went to his 
business in the city, and was not seen again until evening. 
During the day the ladies attended to many matters which, 
among English people of a similar class, are generally left to 
servants. The domestic establishment consisted of a couple 
of Irish helps, who seemed to need a good deal of looking 
after. In the first week after her arrival Olive made calls 
with Naomi and renewed her acquaintance with friends and 
kinsfolk she only dimly remembered, and who seemed sur- 
prised that the little girl whom they remembered had developed 
into a self-possessed young woman with an English accent. 
Other distractions were going " down town" on shopping 
expeditions and attending an occasional lecture ; of more 

17 



258 THE PRINCES OF PEELR. 

worldly amusements there was never so much as a question, 
and Olive learnt from Naomi that her parents took life much 
too seriously to approve of theatre-going and party-giving. 

One night Cousin Hosea put down his book and asked 
her abruptly what she thought of slavery. 

" In the abstract ? " demanded Olive, who was rather sur- 
prised at the seeming irrelevancy of the question. 

" As it exists in — this land of freedom." 

*' I never saw a slave. But I don't like slavery, if that is 
what you mean. I have read things about it in the English 
papers and books that made me feel ashamed of being an 
American — or would have done if I could have been sure 
they were true. My father used to say they were not true ; 
that slavery was not nearly so bad a thing as people made out, 
and that it could not be abolished without breaking up the 
Union." 

" So your father was against abolition ? " 

"Yes, but solely on that ground." 

" He did not think slavery right ? " 

" I am sure he did not. I heard him say so more uhan 
once." 

" Then he was a time-server. He set expediency before 
right and justice." 

Olive fired up. 

" Cousin Hosea, what are you saying ? My father a time- 
server ! " she exclaimed. 

" Your father was a merchant. Suppose two of his part- 
ners, two out of five, let us say, had been high-handed rob- 
bers, and he had refused to dissolve partnership with them on 
the ground that doing so would break up the firm. How 
would you characterize such an excuse ? " 

" I see what you mean. But isn't that rather begging the 
question ? Southern people are not robbers." 

" Slave-holders are, and the Southern people, and many of 
the Northern people, I am sorry to say, are their active and 
zealous accomplices. Robbers and worse than robbers, aye, 
murderers. What crime can be more heinous than holding 
millions of our fellow-creatures in bitter bondage ? I say noth- 
ing about cruelty. Allow that they are no worse used than 
cattle and horses. But they are bought and sold like cattle : 
wives are separated from their husbands, mothers from their 
children ; it is forbidden to teach colored people to read, 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



259 



lest their yearning for freedom should haply be increased ; 
they are not allowed to give evidence in a court of justice, 
which means that they do not enjoy the protection of the law, 
and may be scourged and even murdered with impunity. 
They have no more rights than dumb animals. The South- 
ern States have established a censorship of the Press. North- 
ern newspapers and books are opened in the Post-office — with 
the sanction of the Government — and abolition literature is 
rigidly suppressed. Abolitionists who dare to travel further 
south than the confines of Pennsylvania are almost sure to 
find a bloody grave. And yet there are people who look on 
tlie Constitution as the Israelites of old looked on the Ark of 
the Covenant, and this Union as the Holy of Holies. Olive, 
the constitution is a fraud and a lie ; the Union is a covenant 
with death, an agreement with the devil. Oh, Lord God, how 
long, how long ? .... It may not be in my time, yet 
the time must surely come when the Almighty will mete out 
to this nation a punishment as terrible as her sin. ' For my 
sword shall be bathed in blood ; behold it shall come down 
in Idumea, and upon the people of my curse to judgment.' " 

Mr. Oldbury spoke like one inspired. His face was all 
aglow, his eyes shone with prophetic fire, his hands were 
uplifted, and his voice trembled with indignation and wrath. 

He was still denouncing the wickedness of slave-holders 
and the covenant with death, and Olive listening with rapt 
attention, for her cousin's earnestness made him strangely elo- 
quent, when the door opened and Mrs. Oldbury, coming softly 
into the room, laid her hand on his shoulder. 

" They are come," she said. 

Her husband's voice was hushed in a moment, and his face 
resumed its wonted expression. 

" Pray excuse me, Olive," he observed quietly. " When I 
get to talking about slavery I am apt to forget myself — and 
everybody else — I will see them at once. Would you like to 
come, Olive ? It will be an experience for you." 

Olive followed her cousin into the next room, where were 
two women, one, middle-aged and plainly dressed, with a worn, 
resolute, and watchful face. Her companion was so closely 
cloaked and veiled that it was impossible to guess either her 
age or condition. 

" Thank God you are arrived safely," said Mr. Oldbury. 
*' Had you any difficulty ? " 



26o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Not the least. But as the vessel was behind her time and 
I had to wait, and I am known to be connected with the under- 
ground railroad, we may have been observed and followed. 
We must try to get her away before daylight." 

" Poor dear ! Let me help you off with your cloak and 
bonnet. You are among friends, and for the moment, at least, 
out of danger," 

While she spoke Mrs. Oldbury doffed the mysterious stran- 
ger's cloak, revealing to Olive's astonished gaze a young girl 
as tall and shapely as herself, with a face no less winsome 
than her own — complexion, a rich olive tint ; regular features, 
brilliant teeth, large dark eyes and jet black hair, rippling 
over a forehead low and broad. 

" Who is she ? What has she done ? " demanded Olive. 

" A fugitive slave, and if she is recaptured will be punished 
for the crime of running away by being sent back to servi- 
tude, and all that servitude implies for a young girl so attrac- 
tive." 

" But she must not be taken ; you will not let her be taken,. 
Cousin Hosea." 

" I will not give this poor child up, even though I have to 
keep her here at the peril of my own liberty. You have been 
away from this land of freedom so long that you may not 
know that the penalty of refusal to surrender a fugitive slave 
to the officers of the law is six months' imprisonment and a 
thousand dollars fine. Yes, that is what we are come to. 
The grandsons and great-grandsons of men who defied the 
might of England, and resisted to the death the attempt of a 
stupid English king to put a paltry tax on their tea, not only 
connive at slavery but act as slave-catchers. But I am a 
man of peace, and open resistance, besides being ineffectual, 
would be inexpedient. It is the old story, I suppose, Mrs. 
Sage " (glancing significantly at the fugitive). 

" Yes — at any rate, substantially." 

" What is the story ? " asked Olive eagerly. 

" Well, you see she belonged to a family in Virginia. She 
had notliing to complain of in the way of treatment. You 
had a kind master, hadn't you, Ruth ? " 

" Oh yes ; and a kind mistress, and the young ladies — 
all were kind." 

" She was a house servant, nurse, young ladies' maid, and 
so forth. She got a smattering of education, too, has an ex- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 261 

cellent ear for music, and can play on the piano anything she 
hears. And I daresay, so long as Mr. Fellowes, her master, 
lived, Ruth was as happy as the day was long. But a few 
weeks ago he died, and, his estate being heavily encumbered, 
the executors were obliged to dispose of all the more valuable 
of the slaves — among them Ruth." 

" But a young girl cannot be very valuable." 

" Being young — and good-looking — is exactly what makes 
her valuable. You don't understand the South, Miss Lincoln. 
There are men who would give three or four thousand dollars 
for Ruth, But the ladies of the family, knowing what her 
fate would be, connived at her escape. One of our friends 
took her to Norfolk and got her on board a small trading 
vessel, which arrived here yesterday." 

"I may tell you, Olive — if you have not guessed it already 
— that this house is a station on the underground railroad, of 
which Mrs. Sage is a most efficient and devoted officer. But 
now to the question immediately before us. How shall we 
deal with this poor child ? There is sure to be a hue and 
cry after her." 

" Of course, there is ; and as I said just now, I fear we 
have been observed, probably followed. A very sharp look- 
out is kept here just now for fugitive slaves. She ought to 
be on the way to Canada before this time to-morrow night, 
but she is too young and unsophisticated to travel alone. 
Never been on a railroad in her life." 

" Can you go with her, Mrs. Sage ? " 

" Not very well. Those people from Baltimore I told you 
about are on the w-ay, and should be here or at Fall River 
— I shall know which to-morrow — in the course of the 
w^eek." 

" And you must be on the spot to look after them. I would 
let Naomi go, only she is rather ailing just now." 

" But I am not ailing. I will go with her," broke in Olive 
impetuously. 

" You are very kind, but the journey is long and not with- 
out risk — at any rate, of unpleasantness, if an attempt should 
be made to capture the girl." 

" Never mind the risk. Besides, we can disguise her. I 
will give her some of my own clothes, and she shall travel as 
my maid. Where shall I take her ? " 

" Tliey generally go to Toronto, where we have kind friends 



262 THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 

who look after them. But it will be quite enough if you see 
her as far as Buffalo." 

" I will go with her all the way. Something might happen 
after I left her, and then I should never forgive myself." 

And so it was arranged. Olive and her charge left Boston 
by an early morning train, furnished by Cousin Hosea with 
a few back numbers of the Liberator and some other anti- 
slavery literature to read on the way. They went right 
through, without stopping even at Niagara, and reached their 
destination in due course without adventure, either pleasant 
or otherwise. 

Nobody troubled them. Nevertheless it was a memorable 
journey for both. The octoroon was going from a house of 
bondage to a land of liberty, an event in her life she was not 
likely to forget ; and before they parted Olive made a resolve 
which had far-reaching results. Ruth was frank and com- 
municative, and her story, told in detail as they sped north- 
ward, moved Olive deeply. When quite a child the girl had 
become her young mistresses' playmate ; afterwards, their 
companion and maid. She described her life, and told how 
happy they all were, until Massa Fellowes was killed in a 
duel. And then a great terror came over them, for the slaves 
seemed to know by instinct that the estate would be sold and 
themselves dispersed to the four winds of heaven. Mothers 
went about weeping and wringing their hands ; two or three 
of the men ran away and were brought back, tied with ropes. 
Slave dealers came to look at them, and Ruth was several 
times inspected and examined, as one examines a horse. 
One night Missy Mary took her aside and told her that some- 
body had agreed to pay the price demanded by the executors, 
and that unless she went at once she would be taken away 
the next day by her new master. There was not even time 
for Ruth to see her mother, and she reached Norfolk, disguised 
as an old woman, making as if she were crippled with rheuma- 
tism, only an hour before the schooner sailed. 

The poor girl had no hope of seeing her mother and her 
sisters and brothers again, could not even communicate with 
them, would never know what was become of them ; while 
the slave-holding power prevailed ; might never revisit the land 
of her birth. 

" And yet she is as much an American as I am, and nearly 
as white," thought Olive. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 263 

Olive left her protegee with the friends designated by Mr. 
Oldbury, gave them a sum of money to be used for her bene- 
fit, and offered to send more if need were. But they had no 
doubt they should be able to find Ruth a good place, and in 
effect, as Olive afterwards heard, they did. 

When she returned to Roxbury and gave an account of her 
journey, Mr. Oldbury expressed great satisfaction, and said 
she had begun well. 

" And as I have begun I mean to go on," Olive returned 
earnestly. " So far, I have lived only for myself. For the 
future I shall try to do something for others. When I think 
of my own lot and that of this poor girl, and thousands of 
others still more unfortunate, my blood boils, and I am almost 
ashamed of myself for being so well off." 

" You have decided to become an abolitionist, then ? " 

" I have. I know that I can do very little ; but I shall do 
it with all my heart and all my strength. Will you help me 
and put me in the way. Cousin Hosea ? " 

" Right willingly. We want to enlist the young and ardent. 
Theirs is the future. It is through the young, not through 
the middle-aged and old, that we can raise the moral standard 
of the nation and insure the downfall of slavery, or the cast- 
ing out of the States where it prevails. And you can do 
much, very much. Your mere adhesion to the cause will be 
a great encouragement. And the Divine Ruler of the world 
has ordained that we cannot help others without helping our- 
selves — albeit this should not count as a motive. To con- 
tend for truth, and justice, and humanity, is serving God ; 
acquiescence in wrong for peace's sake, or, in the name of 
political expediency, is serving the devil. You have chosen 
the better part, Olive." 

Olive thought the same ; but her mother did not. When 
Mrs. Lincoln returned from Vermont and learnt that her 
daughter had become a Garrisonite she was ill-pleased. Like 
the majority of Northern people, she regarded the Union 
pretty much as devout Roman Catholics regard the Papacy. 
It was too precious a thing to be imperilled for any number 
of blacks. 

" Let us argue the point," quoth Cousin Hosea, and then, 
asking her a few insidious questions and receiving guileless 
answers, and being a practised disputant and having the 



264 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

better cause, he had no difficulty in confuting her out of her 
own mouth. 

If freedom were good and slavery bad, it followed that 
whatever made for the promotion of the one and the suppres- 
sion of the other must also be good. If the Constitution 
sanctioned involuntary servitude, so much the worse for the 
Constitution. When Mrs. Lincoln tried to get out of the di- 
lemma by suggesting that however good freedom might be 
for whites the colored people were not fit for it, Mr. Oldbury 
invited Olive to tell the story of Ruth's escape, which she 
did with so much feeling that her mother was quite touched 
— and silenced. 

As Cousin Hosea observed, a system which allowed the 
white fathers of colored children to sell their offspring into 
slavery was indefensible — at any rate, by a mother. 

Thenceforth Olive had her own way. She threw herself 
into the contest with characteristic ardor, and, as Mr. Old- 
bury protested, made herself wonderfully useful. She took 
an active part in running the underground railroad and the 
production and circulation of anti-slavery literature, went into 
Georgia to plan an escape at a time when the Government 
of Georgia was offering a prize of five thousand dollars for 
the production of Lloyd Garrison's body, and attended anti- 
slavery meetings, some of which were attacked by pro-slavery 
mobs and often violently dispersed. 

For in those days abolitionists were only a degree less 
unpopular in the North than in the South. Their aims were 
derided as visionary and themselves denounced as traitors, 
and Olive Lincoln shared in the contumely and ridicule with 
which they were assailed. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 265 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

olive's vow. 

" Dear ! dear ! Only to think of it," said Mrs. Briscoe, 
pensively. " Only to think of it ! We came with the idea 
of returning to Europe right away, and five years are gone by 
and here we are still, and I am actually married again and 
you are not married at all, nor likely to be so far as I can see ; 
and Mr. Marsh has sold The Pines and bought All Hallows, 
and wants us to pay him a visit. I don't see how I can go, 
though. Your father-in-law cannot leave his business, and 
it would not be nice for me to leave him all alone, and only 
just married. Fact is, he won't hear of it. But you had 
better go, Olive. You need a change ; everybody says how 
ill you are looking." 

" All the same, mother, I don't feel like going away just 
now. I doubt whether it is my duty. My work lies here." 

" It is your duty to keep yourself in health, I suppose. You 
won't do much good if you fall into a decline ; and your work, 
as you call it, will keep. I fear it is like trying to wash a 
blackamoor white, labor in vain. Abolition does not seem 
any nearer than it did five years since ; and I question whether 
it will be any nearer five years hence." 

The signs of the times, as they appeared to a plain under- 
standing, justified Mrs. Briscoe's forecast. The cause was 
making way, yet abolitionists were still an insignificant 
minority. Even the political party which called itself Re- 
publican, and was supposed to favor emancipation, did not 
propose to do more than prohibit the extension of slavery 
into new territories ; their Convention had affirmed " the 
right of each State to order and control its own domestic in- 
stitutions according to its own judgment exclusively," which 
obviously meant that where involuntary servitude existed it 
would be maintained, since not even the most sanguine im- 
agined that any Southern State v/ould abolish slavery on its 



266 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

own motion. The sole hope of uncompromising aboli- 
tionists was that the North would purge itself of complicity 
in the sin of slaveholding by seceding from the South. 

" I dare say a change would do me good. I don't feel very 
strong," answered Olive, " and it would be a real pleasure to 
have a run in Europe, and see the old place once more. But 
I don't mean to go until the campaign is over. Abraham 
Lincoln has said that if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. 
I cannot help thinking that his election would be a hopeful 
sign, if nothing else. Who knows that it might not be the 
beginning of the end ? Anyhow, I shall stop and see it 
through." 

*' As you like, dear. All the same, I don't think you are 
wise. Excitement, and running to and fro, and going to 
stormy meetings, and writing, and what not, are wearing you 
out ; and you need a thorough change. A voyage to Europe 
and a few months at All Hallows would set you up." 

During Olive's sojourn in Boston she had received and 
refused several offers of marriage, from which some of her 
friends inferred that she meant to remain single all her life 
long. But when asked by her mother whether this were true 
she protested that she had made no such resolve. 

" Mr. Right is not come yet, I suppose .'' " observed Mrs. 
Briscoe inquiringly. 

" Yes, that's it ; Mr. Right is not come yet," repeated 
Olive, smiling. 

This set her mother wondering whether Edward Prince 
would prove to be the right man. He also was still single, 
and never remitted her dividends without asking to be kindly 
remembered to Miss Lincoln, an attention which Miss Lin- 
coln never omitted to acknowledge and reciprocate ; and 
Mrs. Briscoe hoped that when her daughter got to a country 
where there were neither underground railroads nor Presiden- 
tial elections she might find time to fnll in love and marry. 
Wifely duties would be incompatible with rescuing slaves, an 
occupation which (for a woman) Mrs. Briscoe (who was a 
very lukewarm abolitionist) did not in her heart approve. 

But the events that followed the election of Abraham Lin- 
coln were so momentous and exciting that not until after his 
inauguration could Olive be prevailed upon to seek the rest 
which her mother had prescribed and the eminent physician 
whom she had consulied deemed absolutely necessary. With- 



TEE ERTXCES OF PEELE. 267 

out it, he said, her health would be utterly and irretrievably 
ruined. 

" You will come back as soon as you are well enough," 
said Mr. Oldbury, when she made her p.p. c. call. " The 
Cause cannot afford to lose one of its most promising 
recruits." 

" You may be sure I shall." 

" And single .? " 

" Single ! I doubt whether I shall ever marry ; and I vow 
that I will marry no man who is less devoted to the Cause 
than I am myself, and has not proved his devotion by his 
deeds ; nor even then until the war is over and the victory 
won." 

" This is a great vow, Olive," observed Mr. Oldbury, 
seriously. " Do you realize its gravity ? " 

" Fully, and please God I shall keep it." 

So it came to pass that, while her country was resounding 
with the din of arms, and North and South were engaging 
in fratricidal strife, Olive Lincoln was constrained to betake 
herself for a season to other climes. 

After a short stay in London, where she consulted a special- 
ist in chest diseases, she went on to All Hallows. Mr. Marsh 
had made few alterations ; outwardly, everything was the 
same, but all the old faces were gone, and the difference be- 
tween then and now struck a chill to Olive's heart, and made 
her feel more of a stranger in her old home than she would 
have felt in a strange house. As she Avandered about the 
grounds, long dormant memories, the ghosts of the past, 
thronged into her mind. She thought of her father, whose 
place knew him no more, and whose death had caused so 
much confusion and led to so many changes. She went to 
the grove where Charlie and she held their first tryst, and 
marked the fence over which he and Daisy had turned the 
somersault that so frightened her and amused Cousin Paul. 

Poor Daisy. What had become of her ? And Charlie ! 
What a sad fate was his, and how, in her girlish way, she had 
loved him. Yes, she was a girl in those days, and he a boy 
. . . . Her one romance. It might have happened in 
another life — or a dream — so vague and shadowy and far 
back did it seem. . . Her mother had hinted a wish that 
she might find " Mr. Right " in England. That would be 
impossible, even though she had made no vow. To marry 



268 THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 

an Englishman and settle in England while her country was 
distracted with civil war, and the fate of the Union hung in 
the balance, were treason as base as that of a soldier who 
deserts his post on the eve of a battle. 

Her ideal was a chivalrous American soldier, like-minded 
with herself, able and willing to do the cause yeoman 
service, whom she could trust absolutely and love without 
reserve. 

Had she said this to her mother, that matter-of-fact lady 
would have laughed and said, " Don't you wish you may get 
him ? " 

Strangely enough (yet, considering her age and tempera- 
ment, naturally enough) Olive, while thinking she had done 
with romance, was dreaming of a nonsuch Mr. Right, an 
abolitionist Bayard, sans peur et sans reproche. 

One of the first of her old friends to call on her at All- 
Hallov/s was Edward Prince. Olive thought he was improved. 
He had broadened out somewhat, his face was fuller, his 
manner more dignified and urbane than of yore. 

He had the air of a prosperous man, whose position is as- 
sured. Since Charlie's death the world had gone well with 
him. 

Jack had insisted on discharging the whole of his indebted- 
ness to his father's estate, and by lending these and other 
moneys to needy clients at high rates of interest for short 
periods, Edward doubled the ordinary profits of the office, 
and as his outgoings were moderate he was in a fair way for 
making a fortune. He also meant in no long time to repre- 
sent his fellow burgesses in the Commons House of Parlia- 
ment, to which end he was cultivating popularity as a fine 
art, a fact that had doubtless something to do with his more 
courtly manner. 

Certain fears and nervous tremors, which had once beset 
him were so remote as to be remembered only on occasions, 
and a few months before Olive's return he had felt himself 
strong enough to dismiss Lillywhite, whose presence in the 
office was always an unpleasant reminder, and whose place 
Edward wanted for a less self-willed and more energetic 
managing clerk. 

When the old clerk repeated his threats Edward laughed. 

"What can you do?" he asked. "My father has been 
dead more than six years ; it is more than five since Mrs. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 269 

Briscoe's trust fund was made good. If you blabbed nobody 
would believe you, and I should probably prosecute you, 
though I doubt whether anything you may say could 
hurt me. Rather the reverse, in fact. Wouldn't it tell 
in my favor that, like a dutiful son, I met all my father's 
obligations. And nobody has suffered. Jack has paid the 
Liverpool people to the last penny. As for the other matter, 
can you prove, or begin to prove, after this lapse of time, that 
the body found at Whitebeach was not my brother's — and what 
earthly difference would it make though you did ? The ^gis 
people were bound to pay up sooner or later, and if they had 
made any bother, I should have forced them to presume the 
death by an action-at-law. All the same, I don't want my 
private affairs to be made the town's talk, and I'll make it 
worth your while to keep a still tongue. You shall have a 
year's salary and the Rhadamanthus agency. It will bring 
you in something nice, and you'll get other things. Take 
my advice, and don't be foolish. If we quarrel, it is you, 
not I, who will come off second best." 

Lillywhite climbed down. He was not the man to talk 
for talking's sake or " blab " to his own loss. For once 
Edward had the better of him. It was obviously the best policy 
to take what he could get, and on the principle of half-a-loaf 
being better than no bread, he accepted the year's salary and 
the agency, though with an ill-grace, for he was very angry 
and his thoughts w^ere bitter. It was shameful to dismiss 
him after thirty years' faithful service with a mere douceur 
and no thanks. His old master would not have treated him 
in that way, and if Charlie had only lived — however, there 
was no use crying over spilt milk. He must just nurse his 
wrath and bide his time, and if he did not get even with the 
jackanapes one of these days he would write himself down 
an ass. 

When Olive asked Edward about Mrs. Prince he looked 
very grave. His mother was far from well : that was the 
reason she had not come with him. Meanwhile, she sent her 
apologies and her love, and would call as soon as she was a 
little stronger. 

" Oh, I shall not stand on ceremony with your mother," 
said Olive. " I will call on her. I hope she is not seriously 
iU." 

" Not seriously. I hope she will be better in a few days. 



270 THE PRIiXCES OF PEELE. 

But she is not strong ; she has never been the same since my 
father and poor CharUe " 

" And no wonder. Poor Mrs. Prince ! Yet how brave 
she was. Your mother is a woman of rare strength of char- 
acter, or she would have been utterly crushed." 

Olive spoke with feeling, yet quietly, and she was surprised 
how calmly she could refer to an event which at the time of 
its happening seemed like to break her heart. 

" Yes, my mother is a woman in a thousand. But I fear 
you will find her changed. Peele is also changed — though 
quite in a different manner — for the better." 

" How so ? " 

The military authorities have established a camp — which 
means a collection of wooden huts — on Warcock Heatli. The 
town is alive with red coats, and the officers are quite a social 
acquisition — very nice fellows, some of them, and seen a lot 
of service." 

"I dare say," said Olive indifferently. The camp at War- 
cock Heath did not interest her much. " Is Mr. Lillywhite 
still with you ? " 

" No, he has left me and set up for himself." 

" As a solicitor ? " 

" No ; he is agent to the Rhadamanthus Insurance Com- 
pany, an appointment I got for him, and he has other 
agencies." 

" That means he is getting on, I suppose .'' I am very glad. 
I have a great respect for Mr. Lillywhite." 

Edward looked at his watch and muttered something about 
an engagement. He had heard so many people say that they 
had a great respect for Mr. Lillywhite that he was getting 
rather tired of it. 

" Kindly tell your mother that I shall call on her as soon 
as possible, probably to-morrow," added Olive, as her visitor 
took his leave, smiling urbanely, yet inwardly much disap- 
pointed. The bright, impulsive, rosy-cheeked girl who had 
once captivated his fancy was become an elderly young woman 
with sunken cheeks, a sallow skin, a generally limp appear- 
ance and a listless manner. She had not even seemed par- 
ticularly rejoiced to see him, and there was nothing in her 
speech or bearing to encourage the hope that she had re- 
mained single for his sake. But she had deteriorated so much 
that this conclusion was less mortifying than it otherwise 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 271 

might have been, the more especially as his passion was on 
the wane. Few are the loves that survive in their integrity 
an absence of five years. 

When his mother inquired how Olive was looking he an- 
swered dryly : " Quite Americanized and terribly gone off. 
But as she is going to call, you will be able to judge for your- 
self." 

Whereupon it came to pass that when Miss Lincoln called 
at Holmcroft on the following day her worn face and delicate 
looks occasioned no great surprise. 

" She is evidently out of health," Mrs. Prince thought, 
" and when people are out of health they cannot be expected 
to look their best." 

Mrs. Prince was herself conscious of not looking well, and 
Olive was painfully impressed by the change for the worse in 
her friend's face. It was not merely that she looked much 
older ; the gloved right hand, and a slight distortion of the 
same side of her face, rendered it only too evident that she had 
lately been visited with a stroke of paralysis. She was also 
garrulous, often repeating herself and confusing events and 
persons in a way which showed that her failing health had 
affected her memory. 

After they had exchanged a few common-places, Mrs. 
Prince made Olive almost jump out of her chair by saying, 
apropos of nothing, that she had lately received a letter from 
Charlie, and that he was coming home. 

" A letter from Charlie ! " exclaimed Olive. 

" Yes ; he is in America. Didn't you know ? " 

" Good heavens, Mrs. Prince ! What are you saying ? 
Charlie was — drowned." 

" Did I say Charlie ? I meant Jack, Ah, poor Charlie, 
he was drowned, as you sa}^, and is buried in the family vault, 
and we put up a handsome tablet to his memory in the church. 
I meant Jack. You never knew my eldest son, I think. He 
was a little Vv^ild in his younger days, and we had to pay his 
debts, which were very heavy, to save the credit of the family. 
But he went to your country, my dear, and made money, and 
has paid back every penny, every penny. I wanted him to 
pay us a visit, aTid, but for this dreadful war, he would have 
done. Dear boy, I should like to see him." 

" How does the war prevent him from coming ? " 

" They wanted him to accept a commission — he once served 



272 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



in the British army and knows about drill, and that — and he 
thought it his duty, you know. But he says the war will soon 
be over and then he will come. 1 hope so, for I don't think 
I shall be long here, and I should so like to see him before 

I go-" . . 

" Do you mean that he has accepted a commission m the 

Federal army ? " 

"Yes, he is for the North. I don't see why an Englishman 
should fight either for the North or the South. But he has 
become quite an American, and says the Union must be main- 
tained. He considers it his duty, you know. I confess that 
I don't understand it. Fighting to maintain a Union seems 
to me like a contradiction in terms. However, Jack thinks 
differently. I suppose you did not meet him in America. 
You and he used to be great friends, and went hunting tch 
gether. I am sure he would have been glad to see you." 

" You forget, Mrs. Prince ; I never saw your eldest son." 

"Never saw Jack! I beg your pardon, dear, I meant 
Charlie. Poor boy ! He lies in the family vault Avith his 
father and five generations of Princes. It is an old family, 
and not one of them ever did a dishonorable action ; and 
my son Edward is as highly esteemed in the town of Peele 
as his father was, and one of your mother's trustees. Charlie 
would have been the other if he had lived. He promised 
your mother, and the Princes always keep their word. Yes, 
it was him you went hunting with, and I sometimes thought 
— Shall you hunt next season, dear ? You used to be very 
fond of it, you and Charlie." 

Olive grasped eagerly at this chance of changing the sub- 
ject. 

" Perhaps I shall, a little, if I regain my health," said she, 
" Sir George Somerton, the eminent specialist, you know, 
said that I ought to take riding exercise, but only a little at 
a time, and that I must on no account overtax my strength. 
And I shall have to go away in November, perhaps also in 
December, the neighborhood of Peele being at that time 
rather foggy, as you know." 

" Where do you think you shall go ? " 

" Probably to Torquay." 

" Sir George Somerton ! Torquay ? It is a case of lungs, 
then ? " 

" That is what they feared in Boston. But Sir George 



THE FRIaVCES of FEELE. 



273 



says my lungs are quite sound, and with rest and care I shall 
recover my usual health. Yes, I should certainly like a few 
weeks' hunting ; but it must not be more, for when I am well 
enough to hunt I shall be well enough to go home." 

" You intend to return to America, then ? " 

" Certainly, and as soon as I prudently can. This is no 
time for Americans who love their country to be away from 
it — save under compulsion." 

" But women don't fight. What can you do .' " 

" I shall go as nurse into one of the military hospitals at 
Washington — or wherever else I can be most useful." 

" I think you would do a good deal better to stay in Eng- 
land. However, if you do go, and should meet poor 
Charlie " 

" Charlie ! " 

" Dear, dear, what am I saying ? I mean Jack. If you 
should see Jack — and it is possible you may, you know — give 
him my love and blessing, and say that he has my full and 
free forgiveness. He knows it already ; but it may be a com- 
fort to him to have it repeated by one who has heard it from 
his mother's lips, and I find writing very difficult (glancing 
at the gloved hand). Not that he did anything very bad. 
Like many another young man he was led away by evil com- 
panions. But he has nobly atoned for his faults, and now, 
as you see, he makes duty his ruling motive, even to the 

peril of his life I have had great trials, as you know, 

Olive, and trials equally great of which nobody knows ; they 
have ruined my health and made me prematurely old. I am 
only a little past sixty ; and but for Jack's redemption and 
his dear letters I do not think I should have lived so long. 
I wish I might be allowed to see him before I go. But that 
is in the hands of God. ... I must show you Jack's likeness, 
he sent it to me a year ago." 

From, the drawer of a secretaire which stood near, Mrs. 
Prince took a leather case and handed it to Olive. It con- 
tained the daguerrotype of a man in the prime of life, with a 
flowing beard, blue eyes, and a face in which she recognized 
a decided family resemblance to his father and Charlie. 

" You could tell him if you saw him ? " inquired Mrs. 
Prince, " and, as he said he might be ordered to Washington, 
you might see him." 

" Certainly ; it is a good face, and easy to be remembered ; 
18 



2 74 THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 

and, whatever Jack may have done amiss long ago, you have 
the consolation of knowing that he is doing right now. He 
is upholding a great and just cause, and I am sure he will do 
his duty." 

" Of course ; he is a Prince ; and he was always reckless 
and daring. . . . God bless you, dear. You will come and 
see me again. Tell Mrs. Marsh I shall call as soon as I am 
a little stronger." 

" Of course, I shall come and see you again," returned 
Olive, as cheerfully as she could, for her thoughts were sad ; 
and several times during the ensuing months she called at 
Holmcroft and had long talks with the old lady, generally of 
the same trying sort as the first. Early in November Olive 
went to Torquay. Shortly after her arrival there she heard, 
with great regret, but without surprise, that Mrs. Prince had 
had another stroke, which she survived only a few days. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 275 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 

In January Olive was back at All Hallows, looking better 
and feeling stronger, yet not in the best of spirits. Mrs. 
Prince's death had evoked unhappy memories, and the con- 
dition of things at home caused her the keenest anxiety. So 
far from showing any signs of yielding, the South were 
more defiant than ever. The people of the North seemed 
resolved to restore the Union at whatever cost of treasure 
and life ; the President was calling for more troops ; Paul 
Coniston and nearly all the young men she knew were at the 
front, and even Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, had ceased 
predicting that the rebellion would be crushed in sixty days. 
The governing and writing classes in England openly sympa- 
thized with the South ; a great English statesman avowed his 
belief that Jefferson Davis had made a nation, the leading 
journal protested that the Union was as dead as the Hep- 
tarchy ; and so bravely did the Confederates bear themselves 
that even those who least sympathized with their cause could 
not help admiring their courage ; the enemies of the Union 
rejoiced and many of its best friends began to despair of the 
Republic. 

Among the few who rightly discerned the character of the 
conflict and foresaw its issue was Cousin Hosea. 

" Although the avowed object of the North," he wrote, " is 
simply and solely the restoration of the Union, people are 
beginning to see that only through abolition can that object 
be achieved. I have reason to believe that this is the 
President's opinion, and that ere long he will decree eman- 
cipation as a measure of war. The end will be the defeat of 
the rebellion and the restoration of the Union, but only after 
great suffering and bloodshed, God's judgment on the nation 
for its sin and the sole means whereby it can be purged 
thereof." 



276 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

All this redoubled Olive's anxiety to go home, and only 
Sir George Somerton's assurance, that if she returned before 
her strength was fully restored and the winter well over she 
would lose all the good she had gained, induced her to pro- 
long her stay. 

" Ride, hunt, walk, live in the open air as much as you 
can," said he, " and in May or June you can go back with a 
quiet mind — so far as your health is concerned." 

So Olive, fortified by her physician's advice, and herself 
nothing loth, took once more to hunting. 

Mr. Marsh, who, though he did not himself ride to hounds, 
kept up the style of a country gentleman, placed his stud at 
her disposal, and two days after her return from Torquay gave a 
hunt breakfast, at which were many guests whom she met for 
the first time and several well-remembered faces. Yet some 
which she remembered and one which she should never 
forget were absent, and she thought sadly of times gone 
by. But when the feasting was over and she went outside 
and mounted the gallant gray provided for her by her host, 
and mingled in the gay and picturesque throng of eques- 
triennes and cavaliers, and the master gave the signal for a 
move, and the huntsman rode by at the head of his pack, 
touching his cap and crying, " Hounds, please, gentlemen ! " 
Olive felt again the sacred joy which only faithful devotees 
of Diana can know. 

The weather, too, was propitious. A southerly wind and 
a cloudy sky proclaimed a hunting morning, and the knowing 
ones said the " going would be good," which meant that the 
turf was neither too hard to be springy nor so moist as to be 
spongy. But foxes were somewhat scarce, and it was not 
until one o'clock that a ringing view hallo from the first whip 
and a series of blasts from the huntsman's horn informed 
the impatient field that a reynard of the right sort had gone 
away. 

And then they had a glorious scamper. Olive threw her 
troubles to the wind, forgot both North and South, Federals 
and Confederates, forgot everything save that she was riding 
a gallant horse, and hounds were running fast and free to a 
breast-high scent. The gray knew his business so well that 
Olive needed only to sit still and let him go. He took a line 
of his own from the start, and never seemed happy unless he 
was in the same field with the hounds. 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 277 

After an hour's run, diversified onl)- by two or three mo- 
mentary checks, the fox took refuge in a hollow tree, from 
which it was impossible to dislodge him. While the hounds 
were baying round the spot where he had vanished, most of 
the men dismounted to ease their horses and stretch their 
legs, while two or three ladies, who had ridden straight and 
were well up, profited by the opportunity to shake out their 
skirts and adjust their hats and tresses. Lydia Spankaway, 
one of the chosen few, kindly informed Olive that her hair 
was down. As Olive was putting it to rights she dropped 
her whip, whereupon two men, who were near, good-hu- 
moredly contended for the honor of picking it up. Olive, 
smiling, thanked them " very much," and after a remark 
about the run, they sauntered a few yards further and joined 
in conversation with two or three others, who, like themselves, 
had a decidedly military air. 

" You are highly honored. Miss Lincoln," observed Lydia. 

" Highly honored ! How ? " 

" In having your whip picked up by a hero. Those are 
the two famous captains of the Red Hussars." 

" I must plead ignorance. I never heard of these gentle- 
men before." 

" I was forgetting you had been away. The Red Hussars 
have just returned from India, where they greatly distin- 
guished themselves in the mutiny. The two captains are Lock- 
sley — he picked up your whip — and Revel, both Victoria 
Cross men and inseparable friends — they have fought side by 
side in I don't know how many battles." 

" They look as if they had been in the wars ; their faces 
are — a caution." 

" Yes, the Pandies and the tigers have spoilt their beauty 
for them. One of Captain Locksley's cheeks is scarred with 
a sabre cut, the other blued with gunpowder. He led a 
charge on a battery, and after receiving several wounds and 
killing half a dozen Pandies was blown up by the explosion of 
an ammunition wagon. That is what disfigured his face and 
injured his eyes. As you see, he wears tinted glasses. 
Revel's face was disfigured and his ear torn off in a tussle 
with a tiger. He is a great shikaree and has killed twenty 
man-eaters to his own gun." 

" You seem to know a good deal about them." 

" I heard it from their Colonel, Ethelstan. Pie is a friend 



27S THE PRIXCES OE PEELE. 

of Teddy's and called the other day. Very fine fellows both 
of them. Did you notice how straight they rode in the run ? 
Captain Locksley was first over the brook. If I were not a 
hunting woman " 

" You would not object to one of the captains as a husband, 
I suppose ? Which would you prefer ? " 

"It would be about even betting, I think. Revel is rich, 
and Locksley, though a ranker, is a gentleman. He enlisted 
because he could not afford to buy a commission, and won 
his promotion and his cross by reckless bravery." 

"Then you would naturally prefer him. The man who 
rises from the rank is surely more to be admired than the 
man who inherits a fortune and buys a commission." 

" Well, I daresay you are right, and as I have plenty of 
money of my own the lack of fortune would not be an ob- 
jection if I meant marrying — and he asked me. But I have 
noticed that matrimony and hunting don't go well together, 
and I prefer hunting. Yet any woman that way inclined 
would be glad to marry either. Perhaps you would like one 
of them yourself ! " 

" After you, Lydia," said Olive laughing. " When you have 
made up your mind to marry the tiger-slayer — for I really 
think you are rather gone on him — I may condescend to take 
the hero with the tinted spectacles. Where do these gentle- 
men live — at the camp .'' " 

" I think only the subalterns live in camp. The other 
ofificers — at any rate, the married ones — live in the town. 
But, I say, we must be off. The hounds are gone to draw 
Shadow Bushes ; and it's always a sure find. Come 
along." 

Whereupon Miss Spankaway gathered up her reins, touched 
her horse with her heel and went off at a canter. Olive 
would have followed ; but hunting is hard work, even when 
you are in tip-top condition, and she was not in tip-top condi- 
tion ; she felt tired, and remembering her doctor's injunction 
not to overtax her strength and that she was nearly a dozen 
miles from home, reluctantly turned her horse's head thither- 
ward. 

An hour's steady walking, alternated with an occasional 
canter on the turfy side of the road, brought her to the out- 
skirts of Peele and within a mile of Warcock Heath. As she 
rode down a lane bordered with gaunt old-fashioned roomy 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 279 

cottages and small villas, each set in a " garden fair," whom 
should she see standing at the gate of one of them, solemnly 
smoking a huge meerschaum pipe, but Mr. Lillywhite. 

Olive stopped and spoke to him. The old fellow, who 
seemed greatly pleased, acknowledged her greeting by wag- 
ging his expressive nose and exhibiting his scalp lock. 

"Is this your house .-' " she asked. 

" Yes, it is my dwelling-place," he answered, regarding the 
cottage with some complacency. " We call it the Wigwam. 
Rather large for an old bachelor with one servant ; but at 
present I have a lodger who occupies two of my rooms. 
You may have heard of him. Captain Locksley, of the Red 
Hussars." 

" I heard of him to-day for the first time, and saw him ; 
he was out hunting. So he is your lodger." 

" Yes. We are very handy for the camp ; and the Captain 
is not considered sufficiently recovered from the effects of 
the Indian climate and his wounds to live in a draughty hut. 
A very quiet gentleman, though he is such a fire-eater. Noth- 
ing he seems to like less than talking about himself or his 
exploits — and he gives no trouble. His soldier servant waits 
on him. Great changes. Miss Lincoln, great changes. Only 
two Princes left, and one of them in America. Very sad 
about poor Mrs. Prince. I didn't think she would go so soon 
— only sixty-three." 

" Only ! I consider sixty-three rather a good age." 

" You wouldn't if you were seventy-one, Miss Lincoln. 
Mrs. Prince was a woman of sound constitution ; and but for 
her troubles might have lived to be ninety. They say that 
some time before she died she got rather queer, and was 
always harping on the respectability of the Prince family 
and saying that there was never a Prince who did a dishon- 
orable action since the world began." 

" Yes, I heard her talk in that way myself." 

" Poor old lady, I daresay she believed it." 

" Believed it ! ^^'hy shouldn't she ? Perhaps you are 
thinking of Jack. I am afraid he was a sad scapegrace — 
once ; but as you probably know, he has honorably dis- 
charged all his debts, and joined the Federal army ! out of a 
sense of loyalty to his adopted country. A man who does 
that cannot be really bad, and Mrs. Prince might well be 
proud of him." 



28o THE PRIATES OF PEELE. 

" That's true, and badly as Jack behaved I always thought 
he was more weak than wicked. All the same, when people 
protest so much it makes one fancy there is something behind ; 
and there are worse men in the world than John Prince. 
Have you seen Mr. Edward — Mr. Prince, I should say, since 
you came back .'' " 

" Several times ; but not since I returned from Torquay. I 
thought him improved — he isn't so thin as he used to be, 
and more genial. By-the-bye, he told me that you had set up 
on your own account and were doing well. I was very glad 
to hear it." 

" He said that, did he? Well, I am not doing badly — but 
I owe no thanks to him for it. However, perhaps he does 
not think so. Can I offer you anything, Miss Lincoln — a 
glass of sherry ? " 

" No, thank you ; I must be going home. I am very tired, 
and my horse will be taking cold if I stay longer ;" and after 
shaking hands with the old man and expressing the wish that 
they might meet again Olive resumed her journey, pondering 
the while what he had said and wondering what he had meant. 
That he meant something she felt sure. Mr. Lillywhite was 
not given to talk at random and she had heard of his passion 
for gathering and garnering secrets. 

His words pointed to a mystery. " Something behind," 
and the collocation of the remark that there were worse men 
in the world than John Prince with the inquiry about Edward 
had not escaped her observation. But he could not be allud- 
ing to Edward. Edward was a man of spotless reputation, and 
his honest and able management of her mother's affairs de- 
served their gratitude and had won their respect. Moreover, 
Lillywhite had evidently a feeling against him and was there- 
fore not altogether a trustworthy witness. Could he mean 
Charlie .'' Impossible ! Charlie had a high sense of honor, 
and he and Lillywhite were fast friends. 

And yet — why had Charlie broken his promise to become 
her mother's trustee and declared that he was unable to give 
a reason for his refusal ? What was the nature of the pledge 
which sealed his lips, and to whom had he given it? Had 
Mrs. Prince known, did Edward know aught of this ? Per- 
haps Lillywhite did, but she felt that not even to gratify her 
curiosity could she confide to him, or any other body, what 
had passed between her lover and herself on the day of his 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 281 

death. If Lillywhite had any revelation to make it must be 
spontaneous. She should never ask him. 

" I have given her something to think about," chuckled the 
old fellow, as Olive rode away. " Being a woman she natu- 
rally won't rest until she knows all. The next time we meet 
I'll pique her curiosity a bit more. Aye, aye, Ned, I know 
your little game and I'll spoil it; and show you up into the 
bargain, you scoundrel. You'll bring an action against me 
for slander, will you ? We shall see, we shall see." 



282 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

THE TWO CAPTAINS. 

Although Olive awoke next morning with a few aches and 
pains they soon passed away, and she felt all the better for 
her day's hunting. When Edward called in the afternoon he 
was surprised to find her looking so well — plumper in body 
and brighter in face, her sallowness gone, her color return- 
ing, her eyes sparkling with animation ; and she smiled and 
talked in a way that reminded her visitor of old times, and 
made him rue on the spot his resolution to think no more 
about the " minx," as he had lately called her in his mind. 

" How well you are looking," he said. " Torquay has 
done you a lot of good." 

" Torquay and yesterday's hunting. We had a splendid 
run, and I was out in the open air all day." 

" Hunting, were you .'' If I had known you were going out 
I would have gone too ; though I seldom hunt now. I have 
not the time, and I was never such a Nimrod as " 

( Here Edward paused and his face clouded. He had 
nearly said " Charlie," and Olive, ascribing the pause to 
emotion evoked by painful memories, gave him a look of 
sympathy and pity.) 

" I was never such a Nimrod as some people — and only 
hunted, as you hunted to-day, for the benefit of my health." 

"Oh, but I enjoy it immensely, and if I lived in England 
I am afraid I should hunt even though it were not good for 
my health. Y.et, although you pretend not to care much for 
the sport, you used to like it, and I have seen you ride very 
well indeed." 

" You are pleased to say so," said Edward, with a gratified 
smile. 

" It is quite true. Do you remember that time Mr. Vayle's 
harriers found a fox in the forest and we ran him to the King 
George ? And " 

This was dangerous ground, which Olive perceiving, hesi- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 283 

tated, thereby making matters worse. The observation called 
Charlie to mind, as also the rather sorry part played by Ed- 
ward on the eventful day in question ; and it was a relief to 
both when Mrs. Marsh, a dear, albeit absent-minded, old lady, 
whose hearing was not what it had been, interposed with a 
remark about the weather. But no sooner was this suggestive 
topic threshed out than she asked her guest, apropos to noth- 
ing in particular, how long it was since his brother died. 

" Poor young man," she added, " I shall never forget how 
shocked we were when we heard of it. How long since, did 
you say ? " 

" Nearly six years," returned Edward, with a sigh and a 
look appropriate to the occasion ; but inwardly he was furious. 
" Hang Charlie ! " he thought. " When will people have 
done talking about him 1 " 

" Six years ! Dear, dear ! How time flies ! Why, it 
seems only the other day. It was very terrible ; but it must 
have been a great satisfaction to you that his body was 
found and laid in consecrated ground. I don't think, 
though, that your poor mother ever got over it ; and no 
wonder. I remember " 

What the good lady remembered was never known to those 
present ; for even as she spoke her footman opened the door 
and announced two visitors : — 

" Captain Locksley and Captain Revel of the Red Hus- 
sars." 

Mrs. Marsh, who had already made the gentleman's ac- 
quaintance, introduced the new-comers to Olive and Edward, 
on which Captain Revel observed that they had had the 
pleasure of meeting Miss Lincoln in the hunting-field, compli- 
mented her on the boldness of her riding and the cleverness 
of her horse, and asked whether she had learned to ride in 
England or America. 

" Oh, she learnt here," said Mrs. Marsh, again unwittingly 
putting her foot in it. " She learnt here, and had a very 
good teacher, Mr. Prince's brother, one of the best riders in 
the hunt. They used to go out together regularly. Poor 
fellow, we were talking about him only just now. He was 
drowned six years ago, almost within sight of the Pines, a 
place we used to have at Whitebeach, while on a visit to 
Mrs. and Miss Lincoln, who were staying there. You were 
bathing, weren't you, Mr. Prince ? " 



284 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" We were bathing," said Edward, nearly inarticulate 
with rage, yet constrained by politeness to bottle up his 
wrath and look merely grave, while Olive, deeply pained by 
this ripping open of old wounds, and feeling for Edward, 
had much ado to preserve her composure. 

" They were bathing," resumed Mrs. Marsh, " and the 
younger brother was swept away by the tide and they did 
not find his body for a month or more. It was very sad, 
I could never bear the Pines afterwards. That was why we 
sold it and came to live at All Hallows." 

" It must have been, as you say, very sad. A younger 
brother of mine was drowned pretty much in the same way 
many years ago," remarked Captain Revel, sympathetically ; 
and then, inferring from Edward's silence and the gloom 
of his countenance, that the subject was distasteful to him, 
asked Miss Lincoln how she had enjoyed the run and when 
she was going out again. 

Olive gave a suitable answer, and by way of getting as far 
away from Charlie as possible, asked the captain how he 
liked India and how long he had been there. Revel replied 
that he had been in India eight or nine years, and liked it 
very well, only it was so full of sorrowful memories for him 
that he did not think he should care to return. 

" You mean " 

" I lost so many dear friends there — killed in battle, 
murdered by mutineers, died of hardship and exposure." 

" Yes, that must have been a terrible time. The incidents 
of the Mutiny were followed with intense interest in America, 
especially the march of Havelock to the relief of Lucknow. 
Did you know Havelock? " 

" No, but Captain Locksley did. He was with him in 
Persia, and took part in the march. We were not in the 
same regiment then ; our first meeting was at the second 
leaguer of Lucknow." 

" And you were actually with Havelock ? " exclaimed Olive 
turning eagerly to Locksley, who had so far taken no part in 
the conversation. " You were actually with Havelock, and 
knew him, and took part in that heroic march, about which 
I have read ? " 

" I was with Havelock, certainly — and knew him so far as 
a sergeant — that was my rank at the time — can be said to 
know his general." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 285 

" And you were through it all ? " 

" Well, I was in every engagement between the 7th of July, 
when we set out from Allahabad, to the 20th of September, 
when we forced our way into Lucknow," 

'• Nine battles in less than three months," observed Revel, 
"warm work that, Miss Lincoln, and won 'em all too. Or 
was it ten, Locksley ? " 

" Ten, reckoning the fighting at Lucknow." 

"Won't you tell us all about it, Captain Locksley ? " asked 
Olive softly. " Do, please ! I never thought to meet any- 
body who had been with Havelock." 

"Tell you all about it ? " returned Locksley with a smile. 
"That is rather a large order. Miss Lincoln." 

" Well, then, something about it, what you saw and did 
yourself." 

Thus entreated the Captain could not refuse ; and begin- 
ing with some degree of hesitation and in a low and rather 
husky voice, but warming to his work as he went, he told the 
story of that glorious and ever memorable campaign, of swift 
marches though a country swarming with foes, under a sun 
so fierce that on some days it slew as many as bayonet and 
bullet, of fights in which the odds against the English were 
fifty to one, of the fine generalship of the leader and the con- 
stancy and courage of the men, of their rage and disappoint- 
ment on discovering that the women and children, whom 
they had fought so heroically to rescue, had been foully 
murdered, of the advance on Lucknow, the desperate struggle 
to reach the Residency, and the joy of the beleaguered gar- 
rison and their wives and little ones, whom Havelock was 
just in time to save from the fate that had befallen the pris- 
oners at Cawnpore. 

Olive hung breathless on his words, her cheeks flushed, 
her beautiful eyes alternately glowing with excitement and 
filling with tears. 

" Thank you. Captain Locksley," she said warmly Vv-hen 
he had told his tale. " I hope that in this hour of her trial 
my country will find Generals as able as Havelock, and sol- 
diers as brave and devoted as those who followed him from 
victory to victory." 

" I have no doubt she will," returned Captain Revel. 
" Americans have never shown want of pluck, and we are all 



286 THE PRINCES OF EEELE. 

of the same race. But which America do you mean, North 
or South ? " 

" The North, of course. You surely did not think I 
meant the South ; the South are in rebellion," exclaimed 
Olive indignantly. 

" So were the Colonies once, both North and South, and 
quite right, too." 

" But the Colonies were fighting for freedom." 

" So are the South now. And they are the weaker party, 
and one naturally sympathizes with the weaker party." 

" I don't quite see the force of that," remarked Locksley 
quietly. " The mutineers were the weaker party or we should 
not have beaten them ; and when that Ghazi went for you on 
the Kalpi road you did not spare him because he was the 
smaller man." 

" Besides, the only freedom the South are fighting for is 
the freedom to hold colored people in slavery," said Olive. 

" I don't think slavery has anything whatever to do with 
it," said Captain Revel. 

" Don't you ? I will prove to you that it has." 

Olive left the room and presently returned with a little 
book, from which she read the Ordinance of Secession of the 
State of South Carolina, wherein the meddling of the people of 
the North with the involuntary servitude of the South was 
given as the cause and justification of secession. 

" Well, I don't think that slavery is half a bad thing," said 
Revel doggedly. " I daresay those black people are a good 
deal better off as slaves than they would be as free men." 

" If you think slavery is right I have nothing more to say," 
returned Olive coldly. 

" He does not, Miss Lincoln," said Locksley. " He de- 
tests it just as much as you do. Like the traditional British 
soldier he never knows when he is beaten ; that is all. For 
I am as sure that you had the best of the argument as that 
the North have the better cause. The Southern people dis- 
tinctly say that they are fighting in vindication of their right 
to hold men as slaves. If I felt sure that the Northerners 
were fighting to free the slaves they should have my warmest 
sympathy." 

" They are. Wait only a little while, and you will have cer- 
tain proof," said Olive with her sweetest smile, for she felt 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 287 

deeply grateful to him for siding with her, and defending the 
cause she had so much at heart. 

After accepting an invitation to dinner for the following 
week, the three guests left at the same time, but separated 
outside, Edward Prince driving to Peele, while the two cap- 
tains walked back to their quarters. 

" A fine girl — young woman rather — that Miss Lincoln," 
observed Captain Revel to Captain Locksley, as they went 
along. " Her face is both comely and intelligent. She is 
clever, too. How she bowled me over with that Ordinance 
of Secession. And I like the way she stuck up for her coun- 
try." 

" Yes, she is clever," said the other absently. 

" I never saw such a fellow as you, Locksley. You don't 
seem to care for the sex at all. I think Miss Lincoln inspired 
you, though, and your account of Havelock's campaign quite 
took her by storm. Why shouldn't you marry her, old man ? " 

" More likely you." 

" I am not a marrying man." 

" Anyhow, you are rich, and can afford to keep a wife. I 
cannot." ♦ 

" You will not need to keep her, my dear fellow. Lilly- 
white says she has twelve or fourteen hundred a year. And 
when you return to India you are sure to get a good appoint- 
ment ; or, perhaps, a general you'll be." 

" Small chance of that, I think." 

" Oh, I don't know ; things much more unlikely have hap- 
pened. You seem hipped, what's the matter ? " 

" That girl's questions awakened sorrowful memories." 

" Old comrades gone out ! Ah, yes, what a lot of fine fel- 
lows sleep their last sleep over there. When I think — but it is 
better not to think ; we cannot bring them back. Have a 
weed." 

Locksley took a cigar from his friend's case, and the two 
captains went on their way, smoking pensively. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Marsh and Olive were talking about them 
— naturally. 

" They are rather alike, aren't they ? Do you think they 
are related ? " asked the elder. 

"The two captains ?" said Olive, rousing herself from a fit 
of abstraction into which she had fallen when their visitors 
were gone. 



2 88 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

'^ Yes." 

" I should not wonder ; they appear to be great friends ; and 
now you mention it, there is a certain resemblance between 
them. They are the same height and build, both have tawny 
beards and hair, both are slightly bald, both burnt brick- 
red with the sun. But these are not family resemblances, 
and what with their faces being disligured, and Captain 
Locksley's tinted spectacles, it is impossible to tell whether 
they are alike or not." 

" He was blown up wasn't he ? " 

" Yes, by the explosion of an ammunition wagon. I feel 
sorry for Captain Locksley. He looks like a man who has 
suffered." 

" I should think so, indeed. Look at his poor face. They 
say he was nearly blinded. I wonder he was not killed." 

" I did not mean personal suffering. We soon forget 
physical suffering. He looks like a man who has had some 
deep sorrow." 

" He may have lost somebody who was dear to him in India, 
1 read in the papers of a man whose wife was killed by that 
wretch, Nana Sahib." 

" Had Captain Locksley a wife ? " 

" I am not aware. It is only an idea." 

" I should like to know his story. I think it would be 
worth hearing." 

" Perhaps he will tell it us when we become better 
acquainted ; they are coming to dinner next week, you know, 
and I hope we shall make good friends of them. I think 
they are interesting, don't you .-' " 

" Very," said Olive, and she thought, though she did not 
say so, " especially Captain Locksley." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 289 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

EDWARD SHOWS HIS TEETH. 

The dinner was a great success. To it came as well as 
Locksley and Revel, Colonel Ethelstan and Major Phillips, 
all of the Red Hussars, Edward Prince, and several others. 
The colonel and the major had campaigned in many lands, 
and were capital company. The talk was lively and enter- 
taining, the theme for the most part, as was natural in the 
circumstances, being war. The two captains were asked by 
the host and entreated by the hostess to tell how they won 
their Victoria Crosses, but as both were of a retiring dis- 
position (except before the enemy) and disliked to talk about 
themselves, the task was undertaken by Colonel Ethelstan, 
who acquitted himself to admiration, telling the story, or, 
rather, stories with a good deal of dramatic effect, yet in 
excellent taste, and while extolling their bravery as it 
deserved, taking care not to do violence to their modesty. 

Nevertheless, the two captains did not seem quite to like 
it, and first one and then the other made an attempt to be- 
little his exploits. 

" Any fellow's glad to win the Cross, that goes without 
saying," quoth Locksley ; " and there are men who have 
risked their lives over and over again to get it, and failed 
from no fault of their own. Luck has quite as much to do 
with it as bravery. I sometimes think the most heroic 
things men do are never heard of. I once saw a private 
soldier, whose leg had been shattered by a musket ball, 
crawl fifty yards under fire and back, to fetch water for a 
comrade who was worse wounded than himself. That was a 
pluckier feat than leading a forlorn hope." 

" What a noble deed ! Why didn't you recommend him 
for the Cross ? " asked somebody. 

" I am afraid my recommendation would not have been of 
much use. Besides, I did not know his name." 

" But couldn't you have got to know it .-" " 

19 



290 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Xot very well. I was otherwise occupied just then. 

"How?" inquired Olive. 

" My horse was shot under me, and I was under him." 

"Were you hurt.?" 

" A little. Nothing very serious." 

" I thought General Havelock had no cavalry ! ■' said Miss 
Spankaway. 

" At first he had not. I was in the infantry at the time, 
but a scratch troop was organized, to which, as I could ride, 
and knew something of cavalry drill, I was temporarily 
attached. Afterwards I joined the Red Hussars." 

" Plow came you to know cavalry drill ? " demanded Miss 
Spankaway, who liked to know everything about every- 
body. 

" I was once in the Yeomanry Cavalry." 

" Indeed ! My brother has a troop in the Yeomanry. 
What regiment did you belong to ? " 

Instead of answering. Captain Locksley addressed an 
observation to the lady on his right, from which the irrepres- 
sible Lydia inferred that he had not heard her question, 
Olive that he resented it — and rightly — as an impertinence. 

Afterwards, in the drawing-room, the two captains (whom 
the ladies had been meanwhile discussing) were still the centres 
of attraction. One young woman asked Revel whether it 
was true that a tigress had bitten off the greater part of his 
left ear. 

" Not exactly," said Revel laughing, " if she had bitten off 
my ear I am afraid my head would have gone too." 

And then he told how Locksley and himself had once been 
so foolish as to go tiger hunting afoot ; how he had shot a 
tigress without killing her, whereupon the maddened creature 
struck him down with her paw, dreadfully lacerating his head, 
one side of his face, and his shoulder, and how, but for Cap- 
tain Locksley, who ran up in the nick of time and shot the 
tigress dead with his revolver (not daring to use his rifle lest 
he should kill his friend) it would have been all up with Cap- 
tain Revel. 

All this was so satisfactory to the master and mistress of the 
house that they expressed a strong desire to see as much of 
their military guests as possible, and Mr. Marsh gave them 
the run of his coverts, and asked them to rabbit-shooting 
and luncheon on the following Saturday. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 291 

Edward Prince, who had been so completely eclipsed that, 
as he subsequently remarked, " he could not get a word in 
edgeways," was probably the only guest present on the oc- 
casion who did not consider that the dinner went off well, or 
who, when he assured Mr. Marsh that he was indebted to him 
for a very pleasant evening, said more than the truth. But 
Edward always hated to play second-fiddle, and he did not ad- 
mire the rather off-hand way in which, as he thought, the mili- 
tary gentlemen (especially Captain Locksley) treated a person 
of his importance ; neither, if the truth were known, did he re- 
gard with approval the interest that Olive obviously took in 
the two captains. For in spite of himself the embers of the 
old passion were flaming afresh, and he was only withheld 
from making a second proposal by fear of meeting with a 
second rebuff. 

Two days later the two captains made the usual call, and 
spent an agreeable half-hour with Mrs. Marsh and Miss 
Lincoln. At the rabbit-shooting they met Olive again ; after- 
wards, at All Hallows, in the hunting-field and elsewhere, they 
met often, and soon became good friends. 

Edward Prince also sometimes went a-hunting, but his grow- 
ing importance and increasing girth had not improved his 
nerve, and when hounds went away he was generally left in 
the rear ; and Revel, seeing that his friend and Olive rather 
liked each other's company, lost no opportunity of leaving 
them ietc-a-tete, a condition in which, especially during the 
" hack home," when the day was over, they not unfrequently 
found themselves. 

The more Olive saw of Locksley the more she was con- 
firmed in her theory that he had known trouble, and that his 
mind was haunted by sorrowful memories. He was often 
pensive, sometimes answering her questions at random, and 
although he would talk about his Indian experiences, he never, 
by any chance, referred to his previous life in England, or 
wherever else it might have been spent, or spoke of his family. 

Once she led up to the subject, and said something about 
" his people." 

" I have no people," he answered bitterly, and in a tone 
which precluded further questioning. 

This mystery piqued Olive's curiosity — the stories she 
had heard of his bravery and of the chivalrous exploit that 
had won for him the Victoria Cross, together with the fact 



2g? THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

that he had risen from the ranks and achieved distinction by 
his own unaided efforts, had already gained her warm admi- 
ration, and there was an indefinable something in his person- 
ality or his manner that she found singularly attractive. She 
was also deeply grateful to the captain for his espousal of 
the Northern cause. Since their first conversation he had 
made a thorough study of the question at issue between North 
and South, and when, as often happened, people whom they 
met abused the North and expressed the hope and belief that 
Dixie would win, he always took Olive's side, and so potently 
withal that they had generally the best of it. 

Edward Prince was quick to notice the growing intimacy 
between Miss Lincoln and Captain Locksley ; it roused his 
jealousy and provoked his anger, and in the end caused him 
to risk the rebuff which he so much dreaded. For although 
his passion was less ardent than of yore, he could not bear 
the idea of a mere ranker, a penniless soldier of adventure, 
succeeding where he himself had failed. And he did not like 
the man; Locksley had never called at Holmcroft; when 
Edward asked him to dinner he pleaded a previous engage- 
ment, and showed no desire to cultivate his society. More- 
over, as the result of cautious inquiries, made of the captain's 
comrades, Edward came to the conclusion that Locksley had 
either done something that would not bear the light, or be- 
longed to a family of which he was ashamed. All that his 
brother officers knew of his antecedents was that that he had 
enlisted in the Royal Roothing Regiment shortly before the 
outbreak of the Mutiny and the regiment's departure for 
India, that his military record was excellent in every respect, 
his rapid promotion being as much due to soldierly smartness 
and the intelligent performance of ordinary duties as to gal- 
lantry in action and coolness under fire. He had won golden 
opinions all round, and was popular in his regiment, yet he 
never spoke of his family, and it was an open secret that he 
had no resources save his pay. On the other hand, he was 
evidently a gentleman ; Locksley was a good name. A man 
might live on his pay in India, and he intended to exchange 
into a regiment on the roster for that country or already there, 
an operation by which he would probably gain something. 
Meanwhile Captain Revel, a rich man, whose life he had 
twice saved, and who generally mounted him for the field, 
would take care that his friend did not want for the sinews 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 293 

of war. It was, indeed, rumored in the regiment that he had 
made a settlement on Locksley. 

On the whole, not a bad report ; but as Edward had a low 
opinion of human nature, and no love for Captain Locksley, 
he made sure that there was something shady in the gentle- 
man's antecedents. People had been known to enlist in order 
to escape from their creditors, or to avoid a criminal prosecu- 
tion. At the best, Locksley was a mere soldier of fortune : 
and should Olive refuse Edward, and Locksley be the cause, 
it would be the former's duty, as her mother's trustee, to warn 
her of the risk she incurred in giving her affection to a man 
of whom so little was known. 

Calling one day at All Hallows, shortly after he had thus 
resolved, Edward found Olive alone. It was a chance not to 
be missed. He opened the siege very cleverly, and pleaded 
his cause in a manly, straightforward way, which, in more 
propitious circumstances, might have been successful. Begin- 
ning by reminding her of their last interview at Holmcroft, 
when she promised not to engage herself to anybody else until 
she returned to England, he thanked her warmly for having 
kept her word, and protested that he loved her as much as 
ever ; that, come what might, he should never love any other 
woman, ^If she asked him to wait longer, he would wait 
longer ; he would serve for her as long and as loyally as Jacob 
served for Rachel. If she refused him, she would condemn 
him to a life of wretchedness. But she would not ; she could 
not have the heart to refuse a man who had loved her so 
devotedly, and had waited for her so patiently and so 
long. 

Edward deserved credit. He did his proposing admirably, 
and though he told several thumping lies he was really in 
earnest, and pleaded so eloquently, and Olive reflected so 
long before she made answer, that he felt sure it would be 
favorable, 

" I am very sorry," she said at length, in a low voice, " very 
sorry ; but it is impossible." 

The words struck a chill to Edward's heart, 

" Why impossible t " he asked in a voice tremulous with 
vexation and disappointment. 

" For several reasons. Though I have a great respect for 
you, Mr. Prince, and your able management of my mother's 
affairs merits my warmest gratitude, I have not that feeling 



294 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

for you that a woman should have for the man whom she 
engages to marry." 

" The feeling would come in time, Olive ; I am sure it 
would." 

" I don't think so." 

And then by way of softening the blow, she added that 
there was another reason why she could not accept his offer. 
She had made a resolution and given a promise neither to 
engage herself nor to marry until the Union was restored and 
the cause of freedom had triumphed. 

This roused all Edward's ire. His sympathies were with 
the South ; albeit, knowing Olive's views, he had not made 
much parade of his own ; he was terribly annoyed at being 
refused a second time, and thought in his anger that the 
reasons she assigned for her refusal were mere subterfuge. 

" Is that your last word ? " he asked hoarsely. 

"It is." 

"Then let me say that I don't believe you. Making avow 
indeed ! If you don't marry until the North has triumphed 
you will never marry. It is the South, not the North, which 
is destined to triumph. You prefer another — you prefer to 
me, a man of means and position and family, a mere adven- 
turer and fortune-hunter, who comes from nobody knows 
where, who has neither connections nor kindred. But let him 
beware. I will find out whether the police don't know some- 
thing of him. If it costs me every shilling I possess I will 
unmask that man." 

Before Olive, speechless with surprise and indignation, 
could find words to answer this furious outburst, Edward was 
gone. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



'95 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

OLIVE LEARNS A SECRET. 

Edward Prince was keenly alive to the fact that in giving 
way to his passion he had made a serious mistake. It gen- 
erally is a mistake to lose your temper. His had worsened 
with the improvement in his ordinary manner. Since his 
father's death and his mother's decadence there had been 
nobody to withstand him ; opposition enraged, complaisance 
propitiated him. When rubbed the right way he was as bland 
as Oily Gammon, but rub him the wrong way and he would 
almost certainly give you the rough side of his tongue. 

When you have made a mistake the best thing is to repair 
it as quickly as you can, and though Edward was still very 
angry with Olive (on whom he mentally laid all the blame of 
his own fault, for had she not provoked him to anger ?) he 
did not want to break with her altogether, or have it known 
that they had quarrelled, so on reaching his office he sent her 
a letter of apology, written in his best style. He was fully 
conscious, he said, how badly he had behaved, and felt bit- 
terly ashamed of having so far forgotten himself as to speak 
rudely to her, whom he respected and esteemed above all 
living women. Indeed, it was that very love which had 
caused him to err so grievously ; her rejection of his suit had 
simply driven him frantic, and he knew not what he said. 
Would she try to forget it, accept the expression of his 
deepest contrition as an atonement for his offence, and do 
him the great favor of not mentioning " this most deplorable 
incident to any third person ? " 

Olive had no intention of mentioning the incident toany 
third person ; but she was exceedingly angry — so much so, 
indeed, that she did not deign to answer Edward's letter, and 
though the next time they met she acknowledged his greet- 
ing she showed no desire to renew their friendship. For his 
outburst of temper had not merely wounded her ; it had re- 
vived old doubts as to his sincerity, doubts whereof his hand- 



296 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

some conduct to her mother and kindness to herself had 
made her oblivious. She wondered which was the true 
Edward — the suave gentleman who smiled and postured, and 
protested his love, or the rufifian, who had rated and insulted 
her for rejecting his suit — with a decided disposition to think 
the worst of him, despite his professions of penitence. 

Edward's allusions to Captain Locksley annoyed her even 
more than his abuse of herself, and she deeply regretted that, 
instead of replying with a direct negative, she had given him 
a soft answer and assigned reasons for her refusal. It was 
like casting pearls before swine. And, what was worse, he 
had come very near guessing the truth. Olive liked Captain 
Locksley so well that she was beginning to fear she might 
end by liking him too well, and in certain eventualities for- 
get her promise to Mr. Oldbury, and forego her design of 
returning to America in the early summer, to take part, so 
far as a woman might, in the struggle for the restoration of 
the Union and the abolition of slavery. She thought none 
the worse of Locksley for Edward Prince's insinuations — 
rather the better, indeed. What though his antecedents were 
obscure, and he never spoke of his family and seldom of him- 
self ? He had doubtless good reason for his reticence ; and 
did not the fact that all that was known of him being good 
imply that what was unknown was equally good .-' A man of 
high courage and noble nature cannot be otherwise than hon- 
orable and brave ; those who knew Locksley the best es- 
teemed him the most ; and he had proved himself to be a 
chivalrous soldier and a devoted friend. If he were only an 
American, and, above all, an American soldier ! 

A few days later Olive had something else to think about. 
Walking one morning in the neighborhood of All Hallows, she 
fell in with Lillywhite — not entirely by accident ; the old fel- 
low had been seeking an opportunity " to have a word with 
her" for some time. 

Olive spoke to him kindly and asked after his health. Lilly- 
white thanked her and protested that he never felt better, 
that he was sounder in wind, limb and eyesight than many a 
man thirty years his junior. Then he inquired, rather sig- 
nificantly, as Olive thought, whether she saw much of Mr. 
Prince. 

" He calls at All Hallows sometimes, and I meet him occa- 
sionally when I go out," returned Olive. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 297 

" The old lady died intestate, didn't she ? " 

" I have heard so ; but I really know nothing of his 
affairs." 

" She did, which means that Edward gets everything. It is 
precious little he'll hand over to Jack. She must have saved 
a nice penny, and there was a pretty heavy policy, too." 

" On her life ? " 

" Yes. When poor Charlie died Edward got a fine haul 
— fifteen thousand, and his mother insured her life for five 
thousand. He has, of course, got that money ; and one way 
and another I dare say he is worth not far from fifty thousand 
pounds — to say nothing of his practice. He is a prosperous 
man and a proud. Miss Lincoln. But pride sometimes goes 
before a fall." 

Olive, who did not quite like the turn the talk was taking, 
looked at her watch. 

" One moment, Miss Lincoln, I have something to tell you, 
or, rather, something I should like to tell you, provided I 
have your assurance that in no circumstances will you give 
me as your authority — if you should think fit to mention it — 
as to which you can exercise your discretion." 

" Does it concern Mr. Prince ? For, to speak candidly, I 
have no particular desire to hear anything about him." 

" In a certain sense it does concern Mr. Prince. But it 
also concerns everybody else who had a respect for his brother 
and deplores his death." 

Olive started and turned pale. 

" You mean Charlie. What about him ? " 

" That I propose to tell you — on the conditions I have 
named." 

" I accept them. I give you my word that I will not men- 
tion your name in connection with what you may tell me," 
exclaimed Olive eagerly. Was it possible that she was about 
to learn the secret which Charlie at their last interview had 
refused to reveal ? 

" Prepare yourself for a surprise," said the old fellow. 
And then he paused, not from indecision, but because he 
hated to part with a secret hardly less than a miser hates to 
part with his treasure. 

'' Prepare yourself for a great surprise," he repeated. 
" The body found off Whitebeach, and laid in yonder church- 
yard (pointing towards Peele) is not Charles Prince's body." 



298 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Not Charlie's body ! Not Charlie's body ! " gasped Olive. 
** What do you mean, Mr. Lillywhite ? Say at once what you 
mean." 

" Simply what I said. The body supposed to be Charles's 
is not his body." 

" Good Heavens, don't torture me in this way. Can it be 
possible that he is — not dead ? " 

" I am afraid he is — though for a while I thought 

Yes, there cannot be the slightest doubt that he was drowned." 

" Then why on earth do you say that the body found at 
Whitebeach and buried at Peele was not his body ? " 

Lillywhite set forth in detail the facts on which he had 
based his judgment ; showed her the watch which was found 
in the dead man's fob, and told her how he had ascertained 
his name. When a man buys a watch he generally keeps it, 
and a watchmaker generally knows the name of the customer 
to whom he sells a good time-keeper. The watch in question 
bore the name of a London maker and a number, and when, 
some time after the disaster at Whitebeach, Lillywhite went 
to London, he took the watch with him, and succeeded in 
tracing it to its previous possessor. The maker, a wholesale 
man, sold it to a dealer in the Commercial Road, who, as his 
books disclosed, sold it in turn to Mr. Thomas Lindale, second 
officer of the Orpheus, a ship then lying in the East India 
Dock. W'ith this information nothing was easier than to find 
out the address of the owners, upon whom Lillywhite waited, 
and ascertained (without, of course, disclosing his object in 
making the inquiry) that, some four or five weeks before the 
body declared to be Charles Prince's was found on the sand- 
bank, Thomas Lindale had been washed overboard one dark 
night during a heavy gale in the channel. 

The chain of evidence seemed complete. 

Nevertheless Olive was still unconvinced. 

" But the body was identified as Charlie's ; his brother 
and several people were sure it was Charlie's," she urged. 

" If you had known and read about as many cases of 
mistaken identity as I have, nothing in that line would sur- 
prise you," returned Lillywhite quietly. " And just think how 
difficult must be the identification of a body that has been 
knocking about in salt water for four or five weeks." 

" Still — do you suppose that Mr. Prince had any suspicion 
that this body was not Charlie's ? " 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 299 

" Suspicion ! He knew, I told him myself — after the fu- 
neral, of course." 

" But did he know before ? " 

" That I cannot tell you. He said he had been deceived 
by the fishermen, which is likely enough." 

" Did you tell anybody else ? " 

" No. Edward would have been very angry if I had, and 
he was my employer. Besides, what would have been the 
good .'' I could not have restored Charlie to life ; it would 
have made a terrible scandal, and for the rest it is not my 
way to tell tales out of doors." 

" Why have you told me, then ? " 

" Because you are going back to America ; we may never 
meet again, and considering your relations — how friendly 
you and Charlie were, I mean — it seemed to me that you 
should know." 

This was not strictly true ; but Mr. Lillywhite could be 
very diplomatic on occasions. He had a theory that no 
woman could keep a secret, and he felt sure that the start- 
ling information which he had just given to Miss Lincoln 
would be imparted — of course, in strict confidence — to some- 
body else, and so passed on until it became the common talk 
of Peele — without compromising him, since after her promise 
it would be impossible for Miss Lincoln to give him as her 
authority. Edward Prince would know, naturally, and 
Lillywhite wanted him to know. It was the ex-clerk's re- 
venge for his dismissal, and if the story, with a few additions, 
reached the ears of the ^gis people, so much the better. A 
little later on he should whisper a few other things in the 
same ear ; but for the present he could not bring himself to 
say more, wherefore, when Olive, after a minute's reflection, 
asked whether it was possible that Mr. Prince had any 
object to serve in so readily assuming that " the body " was 
his brother's body, Lillywhite answered dryly : 

" 'Pon my soul. Miss Lincoln, that is more than I can say. 
It is so easy to make a bad guess about motives ; and Mr, 
Prince is one of those men whose motives are almost past 
finding out." 

" I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Lillywhite. I am 
sure you mean nothing but kindness," said Olive, pathetic- 
ally. " All the same, it would have been better for my 



300 THE PRIXCES OF FEELE. 

peace of mind if you had kept the secret locked up in your 
own breast." 

Then they parted, Lillywhite feUcitating himself on his 
astuteness ; Olive with mind perturbed, and a prey to dark 
suspicions and painful doubts. Had Lillywhite been less 
circumstantial and precise she would have discredited his 
story utterly. It seemed more probable that he should be 
wrong than that Edward should make the terrible mistake 
which Lillywhite imputed to him. On the other hand, the 
old man could have no interest in inventing the story ; and 
the watch was a//<V^ c/^ ('^W77V//>w whose significance it was 
impossible to ignore : for if Edward's account of the manner 
of his brother's death were true, Charlie surely did not go 
into the water clothed and wearing his watch. Besides, it 
was not his watch ; she knew it ; and Job, the boatman, had 
brought it to the Pines with his other things. 

If Edward's account were true ! And why shouldn't it be 
true ? It was beyond a doubt that Charlie was drowned 
while bathing, as Edward had told. And then there came 
back to her the thought, born of her grief and rejected in 
her cooler moments — the thought that had he made a more 
strenuous effort he might have saved his brother's life. 
Unless Lillywhite were an unmitigated scoundrel and liar, 
Edward had kept something back. If he were capable of 
concealing the fact that the body supposed to be Charlie's 
was that of an unknown sailor, he was capable — of what ? 

The elder brother had been jealous of the younger, and 
she had proof the other day that he could be violent, that he 
was little better than a ruffian with a veneer of politeness. 
Olive shuddered at the dire yet formless suspicions which 
forced themselves into her mind, like shadowy phantoms of 
the night. They were terrible ; impossible, unspeakable, 
and with a great effort she chased them away. How she 
wished that Lillywhite had either held his peace or told her 
more ; and that he knew more and could throw light on that 
other mystery which had given her so much concern she had 
no doubt whatever. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 301 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

" THOSE EYES." 

The interview with Lillywhite happened on a certain Wed- 
nesday in the month of March. On the following Tuesday 
the Marshes gave a dinner party, to which were invited, as 
usual, all the officers of the Red Hussars, then at Warcook 
Heath ; and all — save Captain Locksley — came. " A touch 
of liver," explained Captain Revel, had compelled his friend 
at the last moment, vialgrt hd, and greatly to his regret, to 
stay behind. In India Locksley had had malarial fever, 
from the effects of which he still occasionally suffered. It 
was nothing serious, however, and before the end of the 
week he would be fit for duty and the field. 

Olive said she was sorry. She might have said disap- 
pointed, for despite Lillywhite's revelations and her own 
anxieties she had still a thought to spare for the mysterious 
captain, and would have been pleased to see him. On the 
other hand, it was a relief, and, in some measure, a consola- 
tion, to find that Edward Prince was also among the ab- 
sentees. Instead of him came a note, asking that he might 
be excused, on the ground of a sudden engagement and 
pressing business. Olive surmised correctly that the true 
reason was reluctance to meet her so soon after their last 
parting, and fear that her disdainful silence implied an in- 
tention on her part to disregard his prayer to let bygones be 
bygones. But, whatever the cause, his absence was satis- 
factory. She would have found it hard to treat him as a 
friend, and to treat him otherwise might attract attention 
and provoke inquiries. 

The hostess wanted to make a musical evening of it, and 
when the gentlemen joined the ladies after dinner, singing 
was going on. Colonel Ethelstan, on being asked by Mrs. 
Marsh to sing, kindly consented, but instead of the rollick- 
ing soldier's song, which all were expecting, he sang, " Oh, 
no, we never mention her ; her name is never heard," in so 



302 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

lugubrious a voice as to make everybody feel melancholy. 
Next, a lady sang an even more dismal sounding song in 
Italian, which nobody understood, whereupon Mrs. Marsh, 
in despair, appealed to Captain Revel. 

" You look as if you could sing. Captain Revel," she said, 
in a whisper, " cannot you give us something — if possible, 
something lively. Those sentimental songs are very nice, 
but they are not exhilarating." 

" I will do my best," quoth Revel modestly. " What do 
you say to a rattling hunting song ? " 

" Just the thing, by all means ; thank you very much." 

The captain sat down at the piano, which he played pass- 
ably well, and, after striking a few notes, began : 

" I've as nice a little hunter as e'er you'd wish to see, 
So high she lifts her forefoot, so proudly bends her knee; 
Her fiery head and nostrils red assert her noble blood; 
Her girth is deep, and hocks she has that send her through the mud. 
My gallant little hunter, my dashing little bay." 

" Now see her at the covert side, responsive to my hand, 
While other horses fret and fume, how quietly she'll stand ; 
But when hounds proclaim a find, and for'ard is the cry, 
She'll fling the dirt behind her, and o'er the pastures fly. 
My gallant little hunter, my dashing little bay." 

" The scent is good, the pace is fast, the crowd's soon left behind ; 
A minute's check, a view hallo, and onward like'the wind ; 
At a rotten bank and yawning ditch the funkers turn away ; 
The best thing, quoth the master, we've had this many a day. 
Oh my noble little hunter, my dashing little bay." 

" Good heavens ! Miss Lincoln is fainting," exclaimed 
somebody. 

Whereupon there was a cry for brandy and sal volatile, 
the singing stopped, the women fluttered round a limp figure 
on an ottoman, and the men asked each other what had be- 
fallen. But the sensation lasted only a few seconds ; thanks 
to the prompt opening of a window, Olive came to as quickly 
as she went off. 

" It's the heat of the room," said one. 

" She's not very strong ; rather consumptive, you know," 
whispered another. " She flushed, turned pale and went off. 
A very bad sign, I should say. Her friends should send her 
to Madeira or the Riviera." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 303 

" Hadn't you better take a turn in the garden and get a 
breath of fresh air ? " suggested Mr. Marsh. 

Olive smile gratefully, accepted her host's arm, and, saying 
she would be back presently, left the room. 

When she was gone, Captain Revel, at Mrs. Marsh's re- 
quest, began his song afresh and finished it, little thinking 
that it had anything to do with Miss Lincoln's faint. But 
for her the song was hke a bolt out of a blue sky. She 
knew every word of it ; Charlie and herself had spent hours 
in adapting it ; the air was the same, and Revel's voice so 
closely resembled Charlie's that it was like a voice from the 
dead. How had this man from India learnt what was 
known only to Charlie and herself .-* The shock and sur- 
prise coming so soon after Lillywhite's strange tale were too 
much for her. It sent the blood back to her heart, and for 
a few seconds she lost consciousness, a lapse which those 
present ascribed to every cause but the right one. 

After a short absence she returned to the drawing-room, 
looking somewhat pale, indeed, yet cheerful and composed, 
and, in answer to Mrs. Marsh's anxious inquiries, protested 
that she felt quite well again. 

" It must have been the heat," said the elder lady. 

" Yes, it must have been the heat," replied Olive, and then 
she sought an opportunity of asking Revel where he had 
learnt the song ; but, as during the rest of the evening she 
found no opportunity of speaking to him privately, she de- 
cided to wait for a more propitious occasion. 

" Hunting is nearly over. Miss Lincoln," said Revel, 
shortly before he and his brother officers took their leave. 
" We must make the best of the few days that are left to us. 
There is a near meet on Friday. I suppose you'll be out ? " 

" That is my intention, all being well." 

" So, I think, will Captain Locksley. He is sure to be fit 
by then, and I want him to ride a horse I bought last week 
at Tatt's, a regular flyer, they say he is." 

Olive would have gone if only on the off chance of being 
able to put the question which was weighing so heavily on 
her mind. 

" Where and from whom had Revel heard Charlie's song ? " 
she asked herself again and again, asked herself until her 
head ached and her brain was in a whirl. 

Friday came, and Olive went. The day was, fortunately. 



304 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



fine ; but even bad weather would have failed to keep her at 
home. 

Among the first to greet her at the meet were the two cap- 
tains. Locksley rode a powerful blood chestnut, so hot that 
a less consummate horseman would have found it hard to 
control him. 

The Master of the Riversdale Hunt was the soul of 
punctuality, and, at a few minutes after eleven, the hounds 
began to draw a covert, which, albeit a sure find, was large, 
and difficult to get away from. Moreover, the morning being 
windless, nobody had any precise idea on which side the fox 
would break. A part of the field stayed outside, another 
division went into the wood, and took post in the central 
ride. Captain Locksley, whose horse the throng and cries 
were exciting almost past holding, discreetly slipped into a 
cross ride, "far from the madding crowd." 

Olive, perceiving that Captain Revel was so far ahead of 
the others that she might speak to him without being over- 
heard, rode up to him. 

" I hope you are none the worse for your faint," quoth he. 

" Not in the least, thank you." 

" The heat of the room, I suppose ? " 

" I think so ; the opening of the window revived me at 
once." 

" We had a very pleasant evening. I say, how well that 
little Miss Bravo sings ! " 

" Yes, she has a splendid voice. But I think the song that 
gave the most satisfaction was yours. Captain Revel." 

" It was more the words and the air than my singing, then. 
But it is a rattling song. ' My Little Hunter,' we call it." 

" Is it in print .-' I should like to have a copy." 

" Oh, no. It isn't in print. I learnt it " 

" Tally-ho ! Gone away ! " halloed a voice at the extremity 
of the covert. 

" For'ard, for'ard, hark, for'ard, away ! " shouted the mas- 
ter, who was behind them. " Gallop like blazes ; they are 
outside, and running like mad." 

Question time was clearly past ; Olive's query remained 
unanswered. The horses, as eager as their riders, raced 
wildly for the top of the wood ; and the more impatient, dis- 
daining an open gate, took the boundary fence in their 
stride. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 305 

The hounds were two fields ahead ; only the huntsman and 
one other with them. The other was Captain Locksley. 

Then there was riding in hot haste to " catch up," crowd- 
ing at gaps and craning at big places. Several men " went 
• muckers" at the second fence, and soon the field became 
widely scattered and portentously thinned. Olive, whose 
veteran hunter neither faltered in his gallop nor funked at his 
jumps, held steadily on in the wake of the flying pack, draw- 
ing ever nearer to Captain Locksley and the huntsman, who 
were still leading. Revel had taken a line of his own. 

And so for nearly half-an-hour, when they came to a brook, 
whose rotten banks and ugly " take-off " would have baulked 
a stag. 

" No crossing here, Miss Lincoln," said Lockslc}-. " But, 
unless I am mistaken, we shall find a ride and a bridge be- 
yond that plantation to our right. I'll show 3'ou the way." 

Olive followed, wondering at his knowledge of the country. 
He seemed to know it better than some people who had 
hunted in it all their lives. 

It was easy to jump into the plantation, but diificult to 
force a way through it, so thick were the trees. As the cap- 
tain stooped to avoid a branch his spectacles were plucked 
off by a twig. Olive caught them as they fell. 

" Here are your glasses ! " she said, when they were out of 
the wood. 

Their eyes met. 

Locksley's face, divested of its disguise, was entirely 
changed. 

" Those eyes ! Good God, those eyes ! " 

Olive reeled in her saddle, and with difiiculty suppressed a 
scream. It all came to her like a revelation. Lillywhite's 
story, the hunting-song, Locksley's knowledge of the country, 
his admission that he had served in the yeomanry cavalry, 
his bold riding, and, above all, those eyes. 

" You are Charlie Prince," she gasped. 

"Yes; but no more just now, for our old love's sake. 
Another time," returned the captain, hurriedly, as he 
replaced his tinted glasses. 

" Where are the hounds ? " demanded the master (a welter 
weight), as he crashed through the plantation on his elephant- 
ine steed, snapping young trees as if they were willow wands. 
" There goes Quickly's horse. How the deuce has he got to 

20 



3o6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

'em ? This way, Miss Lincoln, they are running through the 
spinney." 

On they go again, but, fortunately for those whose horses 
are beginning to flag, not quite so fast as at first. 

Olive rides automatically, feeling as though she were in a 
dream. Had her horse been less clever and steady, and 
Locksley, who continued to gallop by her side, less watchful, 
she would have come to grief several times. 

After another half-hour they come to a grassy lane, bounded 
by a bank which, though a fair jump, is a big " drop " on the 
further side. 

Locksley, wanting to see Olive fairly over, bids her go first, 
whereupon the knowing gray tops the bank and slips into the 
lane with the agility of a cat. But the chestnut, naturally 
impetuous, and irritated by being held back, rushes blindly, 
jumps wildly, pitches on his head, and rolls over on his side. 
The next moment he is on his legs again ; but the captain 
lies where he fell, motionless and limp, his face streaked with 
blood. 

The chestnut in rising has struck him on the head. 

Olive screams, and two men, who have got into the lane at 
an easier place, come to her call. Both dismount, and while 
one of them raises the prostrate man's head the other pours 
brandy down his throat. 

Without effect. Locksley still lies motionless and limp. 

" It's a bad case, I fear," says one. 

*• It looks so," assents the other. " He has got a terrible 
gash on the head. See how it bleeds." 

" What shall we do ? " 

" Tie his head up with a pocket-handkerchief ; take him 
to that farmhouse there, and send for a doctor." 

By this time two or three more men, and a couple of la- 
borers from an adjacent field have come up to see what is the 
matter and offer their help. A gate is lifted from its hinges, 
covered with coats and used as a litter. Meanwhile one of 
the horsemen gallops off for a surgeon, who lives in a village 
three miles away. 

The farmhouse is fortunately near, and the farmer's wife, 
a kindly soul, who when she hears what has happened, gladly 
receives the wounded man into her house, and lets him be laid 
on her parlor sofa. Olive's courage rises to the occasion ; 
she sees what she ought to do and does it promptly. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 307 

" I am a friend of Captain Locksley's," she says to the 
farmer's wife. " I will take charge of him till the doctor 
comes. We don't want all these people here ; the quieter he 
is kept the better." 

The hint served; gentlemen and laborers promptly with- 
drew ; but not before Olive had asked the former, if they met 
Captain Revel, to send him straightway to Marie's Farm. 
This done, she set to work ; got water and a sponge, washed 
Locksley's wound, rebandaged his head, and made him as 
comfortable as circumstances permitted. Then she sat watch- 
ing him and wondering, her mind at times positively reeling 
under the weight of the unanswerable questionings suggested 
by the startling discoveries of the last few days, and above all, 
of that day. 

It was Charlie beyond a doubt. He had admitted it ; and 
now, as he lay there, with eyes uncovered, and she studied 
in detail the well-remembered features, and recalled what she 
had heard of the obscurity of Captain Locksley's antecedents, 
and his silence as to his past and his kindred, she marvelled 
that she did not recognize him at an earlier stage of their 
acquaintance. But this was an ex post facto judgment. As 
a matter of fact, it would have been marvellous if she had 
recognized him sooner. When you have the best reason for 
believing that a man is dead and buried, you do not expect 
to meet him in the flesh, and, in the event of your seeing 
anybody like him, the resemblance is ascribed to a blind 
chance or a freak of nature — anything but a resurrection. 
Moreover, Charlie was so much changed that, when he wore 
his tinted spectacles, his own mother would not have known 
him ; and neither his brother, nor Olive, nor Lillywhite, nor 
any other of his old Peele friends had recognized him. 
Even his voice — and voices dwell long in the memory — was 
altered — either from the explosion or the relaxing effect of 
the Indian climate on his throat. 

Yet though Olive knew that Locksley was her old love, she 
could not conceive how he had been saved from drowning 
and found his way to India ; and why Edward had buried 
another body in his stead. Edward either knew that his 
brother was alive, and that Locksley and Charlie were the 
same, or he did not. 

If it were a plot contrived by the brothers, how had Charlie 
been persuaded to drop his identity, renounce his inheritance, 



3o8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

leave his mother and herself without a word of farewell ? 
True, she had treated him unkindly ; but Charlie was neither 
heartless nor a lunatic, and surely none save a lunatic would 
make so great a sacrifice for so light a cause. 

And if it were not a plot, if Edward and Lillywhite believed 
Charlie to be dead, what then ? That was the question, a 
question which the longer Olive pondered it, the harder it 
seemed, and he who alone could clear up the mystery lay like 
one in very truth dead, and might never. , . . The thought 
was madness. He must recover, must, must. . . . Would 
the doctor never come ? 

Olive was roused from her reverie by the clatter of hoofs 
on the road, and presently Captain Revel appeared. 

" This is a bad business," he said sorrowfully, regarding 
his unconscious friend, " a very bad business. And all my 
fault. I should not have let him ride the chestnut. He is 
too hot for this country. We want horses that can creep as 
well as fly. I don't think it is anything very serious, though. 
It looks like a case of concussion of the brain. The doctor 
will be here presently. I passed through the village where 
he lives. He is coming in his trap as fast as he can. I out- 
paced him How good of you to stay with Locksley ! 

He will be very grateful when he knows. Wheels. There 
he is. Now we shall know the worst. I do hope it isn't a 
fracture." 

As Revel spoke, the surgeon came in. He was a man of 
few words; and without wasting any time removed the band- 
age and carefully examined the wound, which still bled pro- 
fusely. 

" It's a nasty cut, and narrowly missed being fatal," he 
said at length. 

" Is it a fracture ? " asked Revel anxiously. 

" No, a superficial scalp wound and severe concussion of 
the brain. He will probably remain unconscious for several 
days ; but I daresay we can pull him through — if all goes well." 

When the doctor had stopped the hemorrhage and stitched 
up the wound, he asked Revel whether he proposed to keep 
Captain Locksley at the farmhouse or take him to his own. 

"Take him to his own, if it can be done safely. We have 
ambulances at the camp." 

" The ambulance, by all means. How soon can you have 
it here ? " 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



309 



" In less than two hours. I will go at once, and send off 
an ambulance with one of our hospital orderlies and Captain 
Locksley's servant, and then return. Shall you remain 
here ? " 

" Certainly ; and see my patient safely home." 

Olive inquired whether she could be of any further use, 
adding that if she could she would be glad to stay. The 
doctor thought not, and suggested that the best thing she 
jcould do was to take a glass of wine and go home quietly. 
He saw that the shock and the strain had been almost too 
much for her strength. 

Olive took the glass of wine and left with Captain Revel, 
whose road and her own lay for some miles together. 

" Am I to conclude that you think there is danger, doctor 1 " 
demanded the captain before he went away. 

" Concussion is never free from danger; and we may have 
complications. We are pretty sure to have inflammatory 
fever ; but Captain Locksley is young, and as I said before, 
I hope for the best," was the cautious answer. 



3IO THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



CHAPTER XL. 

ANOTHER DISAPPOINTMENT. 

LocKSLEY remained unconscious for the greater part of a 
week; theninflammatory fever and delirium supervened ; and 
his convalescence was slow. But Miss Lincoln heard of him 
often — sometimes through Revel : and several times a week 
Mrs. Marsh sent a servant to inquire how it fared with the 
gallant captain. 

One day when he was quite out of danger and in his right 
mind, Olive had a visit from Lillywhite. His ostensible rea- 
son was to convey Captain Locksley's thanks to Miss Lin- 
coln for the kindness and attention she had shown him at 
the time of his accident, but this was merely a pretext : the 
message might just as well have been sent by Revel. 

After Lillywhite had given her an account of his lodger's 
condition, and observed that it would be several months be- 
fore he was fully recovered, her visitor said abruptly : — 

" You know who he is ? " 

Olive nodded assent. 

" He told me so ; and he is very anxious that you should 
keep the knowledge to yourself — for the present." 

" I have not told anybody, nor shall I, until I see him. I 
suppose you have known all along 1 " 

" No. Only since the accident. When he was delirious 
he said things that gave me the idea, and then by putting 
two and two together I saw how it was. And I am really 
humiliated to think that I, who had fancied myself rather 
clever at finding things out, should have had Charles Prince 
in my house for months without discovering his secret. But 
though I knew that it was not his body that lay in the family 
vault, I did not doubt that he was drowned : and that, I sup- 
pose, accounts for my blindness." 

" Do you think Edward knows ? " 

" Not a bit of it. He could not sleep in his bed if he did. 
I saw him in Peele yesterday. He was all smiles, greeted me 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 



311 



affably, and looked uncommonly well satisfied with himself. 
Do you know, I don't think he greatly regrets the accident 
which has befallen Captain Locksley." 

Olive reddened with indignation, and, probably, another 
feeling. 

" But what does it all mean ? " she asked. " How could 
Charlie escape drowning without his brother's knowledge, and 
having escaped Vvhy, instead of returning to Whitebeach or 
Peele, did he take another name and enlist ; and, above all, 
why did Edward commit the unspeakable atrocity of burying 
as Charlie's a body that was not Charlie's ? " 

" That is more than I can say. As yet, Charles has told 
me very little. He is too weak for much talk. I suspect 
many things, and, I daresay, have formed a pretty accurate 
guess as to how it came about. But, as I have no certain 
knowledge, and could not say what I suspect without bring- 
ing a very serious charge against a certain person, I think you 
will have to wait until Captain Locksley can tell you him- 
self." 

" You mean that you won't tell me." 

" Don't put it in that way, I beseech you," said Lillywhite 
plaintively. " I would do anything in reason to oblige a lady, 
indeed I would ; especially a lady for whom I have so great a 
regard as yourself. But this secret is not mine. Moreover, 
as I don't know all the facts I may be quite wrong ; and it 
would be much better and pleasanter for you to hear the 
story from the fountain-head ; and I am sure the captain 
would be ill-pleased if I tried to anticipate him." 

" But how is it to be managed .'' I cannot call on Captain 
Locksley alone." 

" Mrs. Marsh might come with you." 

" Then we should not be alone." 

" Why, when he is a little better should not ]\Irs. Marsh 
ask him to spend a few days at All Hallows ? " 

" I am afraid I could not well propose anything of the sort 
without exciting suspicion." 

" Well, you get Mrs. Marsh to call with you — or without 
you, and I'll manage the rest. She is a kind-hearted lady, 
and only needs a hint. Have you mentioned to anybody 
what I told you about the wrong body being buried .'' " 

" How could I without giving my authority .-' Besides, it 
would have made such a talk." 



312 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" Humph ! There is at least one woman who can keep a 
secret," thought Lillywhite. " And it's just as well ; we'll 
punish that jackanapes another way, and more effectually." 

" Have you any word for the captain, Miss Lincoln ? " he 
asked. 

" Say how glad we are that he is getting on so well, and 
that we hope he will soon be quite strong. And give him 
this," (taking a forget-me-not from a vase of flowers on the 
table). 

So Olive had to possess her soul in patience longer than 
she liked or had anticipated, which was all the more provok- 
ing as she had given Mr. Oldbury cause to believe that she 
would be back in Boston before June, and already the haw- 
thorn was beginning to bloom, the perfume of violets and 
primroses was in the air, and the woods at eve were melo- 
dious with the songs of thrushes and nightingales. Spring- 
tide was in all its glory and summer advancing with flying 
feet. 

Yet until the mystery of Charlie's disappearance should 
be solved and himself restored to health she really could 
not leave England. She was as determined as ever to re- 
turn to America, but a month more or less would make no 
great difference. Wherefoi"e she informed her cousin that 
circumstances had arisen which might detain her where she 
was until July. 

" I hear that Captain Locksley continues to mend ; he is 
downstairs," said Mrs. Marsh to Olive, one day about a 
fortnight after Lillywhite's visit. 

" I am very glad. Shall you call ? Do you think he is 
strong enough to receive visitors .'' " 

"Why not? He is strong enough to come dowstairs." 

" Very well. We will call to-morrow. I have a great re- 
spect for Captain Locksley." 

So on the morrow the ladies were driven to Woodbine 
Cottage, as Lillywhite called his dwelling. They found him 
at work in the garden. 

" How is the captain ? " inquired Mrs. Marsh. 

"Getting on nicely, thank you. Still very weak, though, 
and I fear it will be a long time before he fully regains his 
strength. He wants a change, and I was thinking whether 
I might take the liberty of making a suggestion to Mrs. 
Marsh t " 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 313 

" What is it ? I am sure if I can be of any use I sliall be 
very glad." 

" I was thinking that a few days at All Hallows Avould do 
him a power of good. The situation is so breezy, the gardens 
so spacious, and the view so fine " 

" A very good idea, Mr. Lillywhite. I am obliged to you 
for mentioning it, I shall certainly ask him. Can we see 
him, or ?" 

Lillywhite showed them into the cottage. They found 
t4ie sick man sitting near the window basking in the sun- 
shine. 

At the sight of them his face lighted up with smiles, 
and he thanked Mrs. Marsh warmly for her visit ; Olive, 
less profusely, but the glance which he gave her was more 
expressive than words, and went to her heart. She thought 
he was looking less unlike his old self — perhaps because 
confinement in the house had robbed his face of much of 
the bronze tinge it had acquired in India, yet the resem- 
blance was still so remote as to render it unlikely that any- 
body less sharp-sighted than herself would recognize him. 

After Locksley's guests had congratulated him on his re- 
covery and talked about the accident and other matters, 
Mrs. Marsh asked him to make a long visit to All Hallows 
whenever he was well enough. Locksley protested that 
nothing would give him so much pleasure ; but so soon as he 
was fit to travel, which would be in about a week, the doctor 
said he must go to Brighton for at least a month. Sea air and 
sea bathing would do him all the good in the world. When 
he came back from Brighton he had to go to Captain Revel's 
people in Surrey ; but that visit he could put off for a while, 
and in the meantime should be delighted to profit by Mrs. 
Marsh's invitation. 

This proposal pleased Mrs. Marsh, and it was agreed that 
Captain Locksley should make his visit to All Hallows on 
his return from Brighton. Olive was disappointed : she 
would have to wait at least another month for the satisfac- 
tion of her curiosity, and defer even longer her departure 
for America. What would Cousin Hosea say ? Yet she 
could not blame Charlie. As the doctor had ordered him to 
go to Brighton ; and the sea air and salt water would do 
him so much good, go he must, and the sooner the better. 
And, after all, five or six weeks are not an eternity ; the 



314 THE nUNCES OF PEELE. 

year was still young, and she would be back in Boston be- 
fore the fall. All the same, Olive felt that she was not being 
altogether faithful to the spirit of her promise and her vow, 
that her allegiance to the cause was wavering ; and she 
began to look forward to her cousin's letters with less of 
desire than of apprehension. 

July was drawing to a close when Captain Locksley came 
to All Hallows, looking all the better for his sojourn at the 
seaside, yet not fully recovered, for his health had been so 
much impaired by the Indian climate, the hardships of cam- 
paigning and malarial fever, that the nervous shock occa- 
sioned by his accident had well-nigh finished him. 

Olive and he had no need to contrive stolen interviews. 
The man of the house spent much of his time in London ; 
and Mrs. Marsh, a late riser, was seldom seen by her guests 
before noon. 

" I must leave you to entertain Captain Locksley in the 
mornings, dear," she had said to Olive before his coming. 

Olive made no objection to this arrangement — and she did 
not think Charlie would. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



315 



CHAPTER XLI. 

CAPTAIN LOCKSLEy's CONFESSION. 

The next morning Captain Locksley and Miss Lincoln 
took a walk through the grounds. At first neither had much 
to say, for their thoughts were busy and their hearts full. 
Charlie led the way to their old trysting-place and invited 
her to sit down on a rustic bench under the wide-spreading 
branches of a noble chestnut tree. 

" You want to hear my confession, I suppose ? " said he. 

" Call it what you like. I am dying to know why you went 
so mysteriously away, leaving us all in the belief that you were 
dead. Perhaps you can justify it, but in the absence of 
explanation it seems very strange, and, as regards your 
mother, cruel." 

" Ah, yes, my poor mother ! When I think of her — how- 
ever, you shall know all, and then you can judge how far I 
am to blame. Fortunately, I can tell you without breaking 
my word, for Lillywhite has divined, and told me, what I 
had promised not to reveal." 

" You are talking in riddles." 

" Wait a minute. I must begin at the beginning. We 
quarrelled at Whitebeach because my lips were sealed as to 
the cause of my refusal to become one of your mother's trus- 
tees." 

"Don't say we quarrelled. Say, rather, that I was unkind. 
I should have trusted you. You said you could not tell with- 
out breaking your word." 

" I had been entrapped into giving my word. All the 
same, a man's word should be sacred. What I promised not 
to reveal was, that under great stress, and urged by my 
mother, my father used your mother's trust money to make 
good my brother Jack's embezzlements at Liverpool, and 
save him from prosecution and penal servitude." And then 
Charlie told her all the reader knows, touching lightly on his 
father's fault, and laying perhaps exaggerated emphasis on 



3 1 6 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

the efforts his father had made to repair the wrong he had 
done, 

Olive did not deem the fault very heinous. 

" I am sure your father meant honestly," she said. " I 
still believe he was one of the best men I ever knew ; if he 
had lived all had been well ; and but for that unfortunate 
landing on the Spanish Main the money would have been 
amply secured. I don't think a bit worse of him, Charlie. 
But why, after his death, didn't your mother and Edward 
tell us all ? I am sure my mother would have kept the secret 
and given them time to pay the money." 

" That is what I urged them to do. I don't want to speak 
ill of my mother. Nobody could have a better mother, and 
she had many noble qualities. But she was proud, and set 
what she called the honor and credit of the family above 
every other consideration. . . . Well, as I was saying just 
now, I had a second time refused to accept the trustee- 
ship, unless your mother were told how matters stood ; then, 
after another quarrel, Ned climbed down ; we became friends 
again and went out for the sail in which you were to have 
borne us company. After a while the subject was renewed, 
and Ned did his utmost to persuade me to fall in with his 
views. It was a great deal easier to withstand his arguments 
than my mother's entreaties. I gave him a flat refusal. 
Then he said unpleasant things ; we both grew very angry, 
and he threatened to throw me out of the boat. I simply 
laughed and dared him to try. This made him still more 
angry, and he said something about you " 

"What? Don't keep anything back, please," said Olive, 
seeing that he hesitated. 

" He said he could see what I \vas up to — charged me 
with intending to curry favor with you and your mother by 
telling what I had promised to keep secret, ' as if Olive 
would have anything to do with the son of the man who had 
defrauded her mother.' This maddened me almost past 
bearing, and I told him, among other things, that if he were 
not my brother I would serve him as he had threatened to 
serve me." 

" After that he shut up, and for nearly an hour, neither of 
us said a word. Then he came the old dodge, climbed down, 
said how sorry he was for losing his temper and asked my 
pardon. He had been so sorely tried. Mother was so mas- 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 317 

terful. If his advice had been taken, things would not have 
come to such a pass. For his own part, he did not care a 
great deal whether the whole thing came out or not : but he 
should like to keep father's memory free from reproach, and 
so forth. This touched me, and I said, ' All right, Ned, let 
bygones be bygones,' and we talked the whole horrid thing 
over again, discussed the expediency of making a confidant 
of your mother, whether our mother liked it or not, without, 
however, coming to any definite conclusion. 

" By this time it was very hot, and as the wind had fallen, 
and the water was smooth, I proposed a swim. Ned said he 
would rather not just then; also, that it would not be wise 
for both of us to leave the boat, but if I liked he would take 
care of it while I bathed. To this I agreed, and while I un- 
dressed he lowered the mainsail. 

" The water was like the day, warm, and the swim was en- 
joyable — for a while. Sometimes I would go ahead as fast 
as I could, then, when I got out of breath, float lazily on the 
rippling sea, looking up into the blue sky and thinking of 
you. I had been in the water perhaps half an hour when the 
wind began to rise, and it struck me that I had better be 
making for the boat. Treading water, I looked round, and 
to my horror saw that she was sailing away from me. With 
a great shout I swam after her as hard as I could. I shouted 
again and again, frantically, desperately. Ned must both 
have heard and seen me — I could see him — but the more I 
shouted the faster the boat seemed to go. Still I struggled 
on until utterly exhausted I was forced to turn on my back 
and let wind and waves take me whither they would. By 
this time the boat was a mere speck, and as I could not see 
land, I had no idea in what direction I was drifting. 

" What I felt just then words cannot tell. Ned's cruel 
desertion cut me to the soul. He had left me to perish, hop- 
ing I should perish. It would have been more merciful and 
less base if he had stabbed me to the heart or blown out my 
brains. I called to him again, though I knew he would not 
hear ; I called to you though I knew you could not help." 

" I heard you," said Olive. 

" You heard me ! But how ? " 

Olive told him, and Charlie, taking her hand, continued 
his story. 

" All the same I was determined not to give in : for though 



3l8 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

I could only swim a few strokes now and then, and getting 
back to land was quite out of the question, there was always 
the off chance of my being picked up by a home-returning 
fishing smack or a passing ship, I saw several in the dis- 
tance, but all were too far away either to see me or hear a 
hail. After a while I fell in with a broken oar. It saved 
my life. Without it I must have gone under. Thus I drifted 
about for hours, growing ever more exhausted and less hope- 
ful, my eyes so sore with the salt water that I could hardly 
see ; and worse still, my mind began to wander. I saw 
strange things, and it was only with a great effort that I 
could realize where I was and what had happened. Yet I 
knew that the end could not be far off. But it did not 
trouble me. Exhaustion had conquered fear. 

" How long this went on I cannot tell. All I know is that 
I was roused from my apathy by the sound of voices. Clear- 
ing my eyes from the water I looked up and saw, looming 
above me, what looked like the hull of a big ship. The sight 
rekindled my love of life. But when I tried to answer the 
shouts my voice gave forth no sound, I could only wave one 
of my arms. Then the people on the ship hove to, lowered 
the boat and took me on board. It was hours before I could 
give an account of myself. I told them — well, not the whole 
truth — merely that while I bathed my boat drifted away, and 
being unable to overtake her I drifted away too. I gave 
myself the first name that came into my head — Locksley — • 
probably because a few days previously I had been reading 
Tennyson's Locksley Hall. And it seemed appropriate : — 

'" Howsoever these things be, a long farewell to Locksley Hall, 
Now for me the woods may wither, now for me the roof tree fall, 
Comes a vapor from the margin, blackening over heath and holt, 
Cramming all the blast before it, in its breast a thunderbolt. 
Let it fall on Locksley Hall, with rain or hail or fire or snow ; 
For the mighty wind arises, roaring seaward, and I go.' 

" I had already resolved to go and not return to the old 
place until I had made either a fortune or a name. What 
else was there for me to do ! My sweetheart had cast me 
off." 

Tears sprang into Olive's eyes. 

" Oh, don't say that, Charlie," she exclaimed, reproach- 
fully. 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 



319 



" At any rate, she said so, and I thought so. My mother 
had threatened to disown me because I refused to do a dis- 
honorable action at her bidding ; my brother had left me to 
die a cruel and lingering death. That was the worst. If I 
returned I should have to tell the story of his infamy, as, 
albeit for my mother's sake, and the credit of the family, I 
was willing to keep silence, I would not then, nor would I 
now, tell a single lie to shield Ned from the disgrace he so 
richly merits. He is not worth it. 

" The ship that saved me was a brig, bound from Waterford 
for the Thames ; the master, a warm-hearted Irishman, placed 
his wardrobe at my disposal, and I promised, after we reached 
London, to pay him for what I took. When I landed I went 
straight to the Tower, enlisted in a regiment on the roster 
for India, and paid my debt with the bounty. 

" I had always desired to be a soldier, as you know, and I 
vowed to myself that I would either make my mark or lose 
my life. I think I may say that I have done the one — in a 
small way — and I have come very near to doing the other 
oftener than I can remember. 

" And now, Olive, I think you know all. You have already 
heard how I got promoted and won the Cross, and a great 
deal of what befell me in India. I could easily have avoided 
coming into this neighborhood if I had chosen ; but I 
yearned with an unspeakable longing to see the old place 
again, and learn what was become of you and how it fared 
with my mother and Ned. I had no fear of being recognized ; 
and, but for Lillywhite's communication, and the song, and 
my spectacles falling off in the run, even you would not have 
recognized me, though I meant to make myself known to 
you and Lillywhite and Ned, and my mother — if she had 
lived." 

" To nobody else .'' " 

" Nobody, except Revel ; he is my closest friend. You 
see it would be difficult to explain my disappearance and 
change of name without telling the story of the broken trust 
and Ned's treachery. And I shall retain the name of my 
adoption. It is the name by which I am known in the 
service." 

" And have made illustrious. I think you are quite right. 
But there is one thing I cannot understand — Edward's in- 
famous conduct. What were his motives ? " 



320 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



" Greed, jealousy, and revenge ; and, I daresay, dread of 
the disclosures which persistence in my refusal to become 
your mother's trustee would have rendered inevitable." 

" Still, I don't quite see " 

" He had much to gain by my death. It would bring him 
fifteen thousand pounds from the policy on our joint lives, 
give him the whole of the business, the residue of my father's 
estate, and control over my mother's fortune. Brothers 
though we were, we had never been sympathetic. He was 
in love with you, and had discovered that you loved me." 

" How t " 

" He opened one of the letters you wrote me from Geneva. 
Lillywhite as good as saw him do it ; he has the envelope 
still which Ned opened and softened, and then reclosed. I 
wish Lillywhite had told me at the time ; but the old fellow 
cannot part with a secret without a pang. Yes ; Ned had a 
good many reasons for wanting to get rid of me." 

" Did he get the insurance money .-' " 

" Of course. It was with the insurance money that he 
reinstated the broken trust." 

" But won't that be bad for you, Charlie ? Won't it look 
as if you were implicated in the fraud." 

" I doubt whether it was a fraud. Anyhow I am not im- 
plicated. Ned doubtless believes that I am dead ; and I was 
under no obligation to advise the company that I was alive. 
To tell the truth, the fact that Ned would get the insurance 
money did not occur to me till after I had enlisted ; and then 
I reflected that if I died in India the company would only 
have paid a little too soon, and that if I lived to come back 
I could compel Edward to make restitution." 

" And that you will do ? " 

" Certainly. Also to account for my share in my father's 
and mother's estates, and my share of the profits and good- 
will of the business. He shall pay up to the last penny. 
That will punish him almost as much as exposure would." 

" And when ? " 

" Not just now. Probably on my return from Guildford. 
It will be a trying interview, and I don't feel quite up to the 
mark yet." 

" That's true Was it quite kind, do you think 

not to make yourself known and tell me all this sooner — 
when we met at All Hallows ?" 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



321 



" I had no opportunity." 

" You could have written." 

" That might have been dangerous, arid I had another 
reason for keeping my incognito. I fell in love with you 
over again." 

" Oh, Charlie, had you ceased to love me ? " 

" Not exactly. All the same, you must remember that I 
thought you had cast me off, and six years' absence, you 
know " 

" That means you had forgotten me." 

" Not at all, and I loved you again, darling, at first 
sight." 
. " Yet you did not make yourself known." 

*' Well, do you know (smiling), I wanted to see whether 
Captain Locksley could not win the heart which had once 
been given to Charlie Prince. Did I succeed ? " 

" How dare you ask such a question ? It is really too bad 
of you," exclaimed Olive, with well-feigned indignation. 

" That is no answer to my question. Tell me, now, 
wouldn't the captain have had a chance, even though you 
had not discovered that he bore another name ? " 

" I shall not tell you." 

" Anyhow, you love me still. I have been true to you all 
these years, though you did cast me off." 

" Cruel." 

" Then you did not cast me off. So we are as we were, 
only a little more so. We had agreed to be engaged when 
you were old enough, and your mother gave her consent. 
You are old enough now, and your own mistress. Therefore 
we are really engaged, and there is nothing to do but fix the 
day," said Charlie, laughing pleasantly. 

Olive smiled and gave him her hand. 

" I doubt whether your logic is quite correct ; " she said 
archly, " but after all you have gone through, the perils you 
have survived and the honors you have won, I have not the 
heart to controvert your arguments. I could though an I 
would." 

" Of course you could — you can do anything you like with 
me — but you won't. That is enough for me. ^^'e are en- 
gaged, and now about the day ? " 

Olive's countenance fell. For the last half hour she had 
been oblivious of her promise, her vow, the cause — every- 

21 



322 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



thing but her lover — and now like Macduff's ghost at the 
banquet they rose up unbidden (in her mind) and struck ter- 
ror to her heart. 

" Oh, Charlie, it is impossible : it cannot be," she cried. 

" Cannot be ! Why ? " 

" Because of my vow," and then she told him how it came 
to be made. 

" Is that all ? I was afraid you had promised to marry 
some other fellow," observed Charlie with a sigh of relief. 
" Don't you see that as the vow was made in ignorance of a 
material fact it is not binding. If you had known I was 
alive it would not have been made." 

" Perhaps not. All the same — didn't you say just nov/ that 
a man should hold his word sacred, though he may have 
been entrapped into giving it ; and ought not a woman's vow 
to be as sacred as a man's promise t " 

" The cases are not analogous. My promise concerned a 
supposed secret, which I kept until it was imparted to me by 
a third person. Yours concerned your future conduct ; and 
in view of circumstances which have since come to light, you 
may disregard it with a safe conscience." 

" I cannot quite see it in that light. It was essentially a 
promise to do my duty to my country in her present trouble. 
Suppose our positions were reversed. Wouldn't you come 
back to England and fight for her, and, if need were, die for 
her?" 

" Women don't fight." 

" They can help and encourage the men who do, nurse the 
wounded, and comfort those whom war has bereft of sons, 

fathers, and husbands I love you none the less, 

Charlie, because I love my country and the great cause which 
is at stake. You have borne yourself so bravely and acted 
so nobly that I love you more than I did seven years ago. 
That was a girl's love, this is a woman's love. But I cannot, 
cannot forget that I am an American." 

" I don't ask you to forget it. I should be very sorry. 
Do you know, I have sometimes thought that I should — if 
the rules of the service permitted — like to enter the Federal 
Army for a v/hile. It would be a useful experience, and the 
cause is good." 

" Ah, then ! " exclaimed Olive, with glistening eyes. 

" But you have not named the day." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 323 

" Oh, don't ask me now, dear." 

" Well, think it over. You don't propose to return to 
America immediately ? " 

" No, not immediately," returned Olive, with some hesi- 
tation. 

The subject was renewed on the next day and the day 
after that, Charlie beseeching and arguing, and trying hard 
to gain his point, she resisting, yet so faintheartedly withal 
that he felt sure she would end by yielding. 

Towards the end of the week Mr. Marsh came from Lon- 
don, bringing with him several visitors, whose presence in 
the house put an end to the lovers' private talks : and a few 
days later Charlie was obliged to leave for Guildford. 

" I shall write," whispered Olive as he was going away. 

" So shall I, and I shall be back in a fortnight." 

Before the fortnight came to an end Olive had letters from 
America. One of them was addressed in the well-known 
handwriting of Cousin Hosea. Conscious of her backsliding 
she opened the letter in fear and trembling. But Mr. Old- 
bury neither wrote words of direct reproach, nor referred 
to the prolongation of her stay in England. On the other 
hand, he dwelt at length on the prospect of the war and the 
temper of the country, of the unflinching determination to 
restore the union, and of the strenuous and unexampled ef- 
forts that, to this end, were being put forth ;_ of the devoted 
men who had died on the field of battle ; of delicate young 
women, who were doing the work of nurses in military hos- 
pitals and following in the wake of armies to tend the 
wounded and the sick. The abolition of slavery in the District 
of Columbia, its prohibition in the territories and the offer of 
Congress to compensate any state which should abolish 
slaver}^ proved the nation's resolve to put away the sin which 
had drawn upon it God's anger and the reprobation of man- 
kind. But in all this there was no bitterness ; he even 
spoke tenderly of the rebels as " our erring brethren who are 
fighting nobly in a bad cause." 

The letter concluded thus : " I do not envy the feelings of 
those Americans who are absent from their country in the 
hour of her agony, who, as they are taking no part in the 
battle will have no share in the victory (a victory for the 
South as well as the North), and who, to the end of their 
days, will be haunted by the sense of having watched from 



324 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



afar, with cold hearts and folded hands, the most momentous 
struggle for human freedom of our time." 

Olive read the letter in her own room. After reading it 
she sat a whole hour, motionless and in deep thought. Then 
she knelt down. When she rose from her knees her resolu- 
tion was taken. She wrote the same day to Liverpool, en- 
gaging a passage to New York by the next Cunard steamer. 
The following day she made her preparations, and on the 
day of her departure, she sent Cousin Hosea's letter to Char- 
lie, inclosing therewith a few lines from herself. 

" My hesitation is at an end," she wrote. " By the time you 
receive this I shall be gone. My cousin's letter will inform 
you why I have come to this sudden resolve. I hurry away 
for fear lest, if I see you again I may be persuaded to relent. 
I am sure you will love me none the less because I love my 
country too well to desert her in her hour of need. When 
the war is over and the victory won we may meet again — if 
you keep in the same mind. Until then, dear Charlie, fare- 
well, though I write the word with a faltering hand and a 
breaking heart. — Olive." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



325 



CHAPTER XLII. 

EDWARD SURRENDERS. 

Early morning. Edward Prince in his office discussing 
with Mr. Simpson, his managing clerk, the contents of the 
freshly opened letters on his desk, pretty much as his father 
discussed business matters with Mr. Lillywhite in days gone 
by. 

But, for the most part, the nature of the business under 
discussion differed as widely from the business which the 
late Mr. Prince was wont to talk over with the old clerk, as 
the latter differed in personal appearance from his successor. 
Mr. Simpson was a dapper little gentleman with small features, 
a white face and piercing black eyes ; his clothes, of the 
newest cut, fitted him to perfection, his hair was parted in the 
middle, his whiskers were beautifully curled, and he sported 
a flower in his buttonhole. 

" Here's Walker wants his note renewed for three months, 
Mr. Simpson, what do you think, shall we do it ? " said 
Edward taking up a letter. 

" The security is pretty fair for a hundred and fifty, I think 
— a bill of sale on his stock, and a policy of insurance for 
five hundred, on which twenty annual premiums have been 
paid." 

" Good ! But he must plank something down — the interest 
in advance and legal expenses." 

" He'll do that — cannot help himself. I shall insist on fif- 
teen pounds." 

" That will do. Forty per cent, isn't bad interest on a 
practically safe investment. Now, about Jones. He asks for 
a thousand pounds and wants the money to-morrow, secured 
by an equitable mortgage on his house and land. The 
security is perfect, so good, indeed, that I am surprised he 
does not go to the bank." 

"His account is heavily overdrawn. He is afraid the bank 



326 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

would want to keep the deeds as cover for the present ad- 
vance." 

" Then he is in a corner and squeezable. Say that he can 
have the money for four months, certain at one per cent, per 
month, and you can run him up a pretty stiff bill for expenses." 

" Oh, yes, sir. That is easily done. What about Symonds ? 
He was here just before you came, pleading for a little further 
delay, and talking about his wife and children." 

" I have granted him delays enough, and I won't stand any 
nonsense. Write him that if he does not pay within ten days 
Ave shall take proceedings. There is somebody at the door ; 
just see." 

Simpson went to the door, and took from a young clerk a 
slip of paper on which was written : " Captain Locksley 
would like to see Mr. Prince." 

" Captain Locksley ! What can he want ? " said Edward, 
glancing at the paper. 

" Either advice or a loan, I should say," returned Simpson 
drily. 

" On the security of his commission, I suppose. He has 
nothing else. Was Gubbins served with that writ yesterday ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Good ! Tell the gentleman I am disengaged, and shall be 
glad to see him." 

Whereupon, exit Mr, Simpson and enter Captain Locksley, 
with his hat in his hand, and his tinted spectacles on his 
nose. 

" Good-morning, captain ; glad to see you : pray sit down," 
said Edward offering his hand. 

Locksley responded with a formal bow, and sat down, 
looking hard the while at his brother. The latter, who hated 
being stared at, asked his visitor what he could do for him, 
to which the captain answered nothing. 

" Hang the fellow, he must be deaf," thought Edward. 

" What can I have the pleasure of doing for you. Captain 
Locksley ? " he repeated. 

" Don't you know me, Ned ? " said Charlie removing his 
spectacles. 

Edward's face blanched to the pallor of death, he fell back 
in his chair as if he had been shot, convulsively gripping the 
arms of it with both his hands. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 327 

After thrice essaying to speak, without producing any- 
sound save a hoarse gurgle, he gasped : 

" You are not Charlie ? " 

" I am nobody else. You thought you had drowned me ? " 

" I — I protest " exclaimed Edward, wiping the sweat 

from his brow. 

" Don't ! I shouldn't believe you. You wanted me to die 
and left me to perish." 

" I assure you, Charlie, I had no idea " 

" Come, Ned, don't add lying to your other sins. Rather 
thank God that though you tried to commit murder you did not 
succeed. You treacherously sailed away and left me to 
drown ; and but for a friendly oar which kept me afloat, and 
a passing ship which picked me up, your object would have 
been accomplished. I enlisted and went to India, because if 
I had come back I should have been constrained to make 
painful explanations, which, for my mother's sake — not yours 
— I did not want to do." 

" But you call yourself Locksley. What evidence is there 
to show that you are Charles Prince ? " asked Edward, mak- 
ing a great effort to resume his ordinary manner. 

" Do you doubt it.-* " demanded Charlie indignantly. " If 
that is the line you are going to take — let me see " (rising 
from his chair), " the Mercury comes out on Saturdays. I 
shall see the editor at once, and by this time to-morrow all 
Peele will know " 

" No, no, for heaven's sake don't do anything rash," inter- 
rupted Edward. " I did not mean — I only suggested an ob- 
vious difficulty. I don't deny — I admit — yes, I admit, that 
you are my brother. But the shock has so upset me that I 
hardly know what I am saying. Does anybody else know of 
this 1 " 

"Three persons know, but every one of them — so long as 
I desire it — will keep the secret as religiously as I shall my- 
self—on certain conditions. These three are Lillywhite, who 
is now in the general office waiting for me, my good friend 
and comrade. Captain Revel, and Olive Lincoln." 

" Olive Lincoln ! Good heavens ! Does she know ? You 
told her ? " 

" Naturally. We are engaged." 

Edward fell back in his chair again, his face pale, his lips 
writhing. 



328 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

Charlie watched him pitilessl)-. 

" But she is gone to America," said Edward at length. 

" That does not alter the fact. You were jealous ; that is 
one reason why you tried to drown me. You opened a letter 
which you found on my desk " 

" I didn't." 

" Lillywhite has the envelope which you broke open and 
reclosed. Shall I call him in .-* " 

" Pray don't. Anything rather than that. You spoke of 
conditions — conditions on which you would keep this matter 
secret." 

" And retain the name I bear. I suppose that would serve 
your purpose, though, candidly, I don't propose to do it out 
of consideration for you — and it is conceivable that I may 
have to take one or two more persons into my confidence ; 
but not in this country." 

" You are very bitter, Charlie." 

" No. I am only just." 

" Well, never mind that. What are your conditions ? " 

" That you return the fifteen thousand pounds you received 
from the insurance people." 

" Impossible. I should have to tell them everything." 

" Not at all. You would have to say that, having ascer- 
tained that, instead of being drowned, as everybody supposed, 
your brother was picked up by a passing ship, and left the 
country without communicating with his friends, you hasten 
to repay them the amount which you claimed and they paid 
in the belief that he was dead. They will be too glad to get 
back the money to ask questions." 

" It will look very bad." 

" If you wait until they find it out and make a demand it 
will. But if you make the offer spontaneously it will look 
rather well." 

" But they will ask for interest." 

"Why not? You have had the use of the money, and 
turned it to good account, too." 

" No, I haven't. It went to reinstate Mrs. Lincoln's trust 
fund." 

" Well, you have had the use of the money Jack paid. It 
comes to the same thing." 

" Six years' interest ! That will make a total of nearly 
twenty thousand pounds." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



329 



" I don't care, though it makes a total of thirty thousand. 
Will you do it, or shall I communicate with the company? " 

" I suppose I must," groaned Edward. " What else ? " 

" I want my share of my father's and mother's estates ; and 
Jack must have his share " 

" He is rich. He doesn't want it ; he has written to say 
so. I can show you the letter." 

" In that case we shall have to divide equally. I also want 
an account of my share of the profits of the office since I 
went away. Our partnership has never been dissolved, re- 
member." 

" But I have done all the work ; you have done nothing." 

" Whose fault is that ? However, though I insist on hav- 
ing all that is due to me I want to be scrupulously fair. You 
can debit the account with the value of my personal services 
for the last six years — say three thousand pounds. That will 
be about fair, I think ? " 

Edward nodded assent, and a faint smile flickered over his 
face. It was three thousand pounds saved, as it were out of 
the fire. Charlie was less exacting than he had feared. 

" On the other hand," resumed Charlie, " on the other 
hand, there is my interest in the practice, which is quite as 
much." 

" Nothing of the sort. I deny it — I protest — it is not 
worth half three thousand pounds." 

" I think it is. Shall we have it put to arbitration ? I am 
quite agreeable." 

" How can we without disclosing the secret ? You have 
the whip hand now. Have your own way." 

" I will have what is right, Ned ; neither more nor less. 
And this is right. And there is another matter. You must 
do something for Lillywhite — undertake to allow him a hun- 
dred a year as long as he lives, or buy him an annuity." 

" Hang Lillywhite ! This is clean ruin," exclaimed Edward 
passionately. " It will take every shilling I have got. Don't 
be so hard on me, Charlie." 

" Don't you be so greedy, Ned. It won't take all you have 
got, or anything like it. Lillywhite says that what with 
money-lending and one thing and another you are making 
two or three times as much as we used to make, and for the 
future you will have all that to yourself. And I don't ask 
for an immediate settlement. You need not approach the 



33 o THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

^gis people for a month, and I have no doubt they will be 
open to an arrangement. As for myself, all I ask is five hun- 
dred pounds down and the rest by instalments." 

" Let me have a little time to consider." 

" Not an hour. Why should a solvent man have time to 
consider whether he will pay his debts .-' Anyhow, my offer 
will not be repeated. If you refuse I shall run up to town 
and place myself in the hands of Topper, Sandboy, and 
Periwinkle." 

Edward drew a deep breath and bent his head. 

" I agree," he said, after a moment's reflection, " The 
account shall be prepared. I will settle with the ^gis a 
month hence : and bind myself to pay Lillywhite a hundred 
a year." 

" When will the accounts be ready ? " 

" In a week. My books are well kept. If you come here 
this day week at this time, the accounts shall be ready, and 
the money, and the bond." 

" Good ! We may consider that business as arranged. I 
shall leave the details to Lillywhite. He will examine the 
accounts and that. But there is something else." 

" Good Heavens ! What ? " 

" You have neither expressed sorrow " 

" I am sorry, very sorry." 

" I am glad to hear you say so, Ned, very glad," returned 
Charlie, cordially. " It is bad for brothers to be at enmity. 
If we cannot be friends — and I fear we never can — at any 
rate we need not be enemies. You are sorry, and have 
agreed to make amends, and I, on my part, forgive you. 
Here is my hand on it." 

They shook hands, and Captain Locksley went his way. 

For a long time after his brother was gone, Edward 
Prince sat with folded arms, sullenly thinking. 

" Thirty-three thousand pounds ? " he muttered. " Thirty- 
three thousand ! I should not get off for a penny less ; and 
it may be more, to say nothing of the hundred a year to 
Lillywhite. ... I did not think Charlie had it in him to 
be so hard and sharp. But a good deal of that is Lillywhite's 
doing — his revenge, I suppose. I should have kept him 
on, and would have done if I had foreseen — but who could 
have foreseen ? . . . Charlie will be well off, devilish well 
off. He has lighted on his feet again ; fellows who don't 



THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. 331 

like steady work generally do. He will have fourteen or 
fifteen thousand pounds, and Olive and her money — that is 
the bitterest pill of all. He may buy as many steps as he 
likes, and rise high in the service. Oh, he may well afford 
to forgive me. . . . And I lose my chance of standing for 
the borough. I shall be too poor. . . . Yes, I am sorry, 
very sorry — that he was not drowned." 



332 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

'twixt love and duty. 

On a June morning, in the year 1863, a gentleman wearing 
a military uniform, stepped out of Willard's Hotel, \\'ashing- 
ton, and after making inquiry of another military gentleman, 
with an armless sleeve, who was loitering at the door, as to 
the whereabouts of a certain hospital, wended thitherwards. 

The day was fine, and the streets were full of life and 
noise, and bustle. Soldiers everywhere, some in companies 
and squadrons, on their way to the front, or just arrived from 
the North or West to reinforce the garrison of the Capital ; 
others, mostly recruits, sauntering about, singly and in 
groups ; orderlies hurrying to and fro ; ammunition wagons, 
ambulances, gun limbers rolling sonorously over the pave- 
ment ; officers shouting their orders, sabres clashing, bayonets 
gleaming, horses neighing, banners flying, bugles blowing, 
and all the " pomp and circumstance of glorious war." Yet 
many — though they carried it off bravely — were under deejD 
discouragement. The Union cause was not prospering. 
Fredericksburg and Chancelloi'sville had been fought and 
lost, and the fear of losing Washington was becoming greater 
than the hope of taking Richmond. 

The officer in question surveyed the scene with an air 
Avhich was alternately critical and indifferent. He had seen 
too much of the stern realities of war to be excited by the 
mere preparations for combat. After twice asking his way 
he reached his destination, one of the temporary frame hos- 
pitals with canvas sides, so much in vogue during the Civil 
War. 

Passing within, the gentleman asked the dark-skinned 
janitor whether Miss Lincoln was in the hospital, and re- 
ceived an answer in the affirmative. 

" 1 should like to see her," said the stranger. 

" If you'll give me your name, and walk into the waiting- 
room I'll let Missy Lincoln know as you's dere." 



THE PRINCES OF FEELE. 



ZZl 



" Take her this card." 

" Yes, kernel," and the darkie went off with the card, which 
bore this inscription : — 

" Colonel Paul Coniston, 

17th Illinois Bucktails." 

The waiting-room was a plainly furnished parlor, with a 
few commonplace engravings on the walls, and a few com- 
monplace books on the table. The " kernel " took up one of 
the books, glanced at the title-page and laid it down again ; 
then paced about the room impatiently for several minutes, 
then, turning a chair to one of the windows, sat down and 
contemplated, or seemed to contemplate, the street. While 
he was thus occupied the door silently opened and an eager 
voice exclaimed : 

" Oh, Cousin Paul, I am so sorry to have kept you waiting, 
but I was with the doctors and could not get away sooner." 

Her visitor rose from his chair and turned right about 
face. 

" Good heavens ! You, Charlie ; you, and in that uniform ? " 

" Yes, it is I, Olive, and in this uniform. And you, Olive, 
you are in my arms," suiting the action to the word and kiss- 
ing her passionately. 

" But why ? I can hardly believe. How has it come to 
pass? • The porter brought me Paul Coniston's card." 

"I wanted to surprise you." 

" And you have succeeded. But how has it come about "i 
Tell me quickly. I am dying to know." 

" Well I have the honor to be a major in Paul Coniston's 
regiment of Illinois Bucktails." 

" Oh, this is agonizing. Do tell me, please. When did 
you leave England .'' How long have you been in our army? 
How was it managed ? Have you left the Red Hussars ? " 

" Naturally. I could not hold the Queen's commission 
and Abraham Lincoln's at the same time." 

" But was not that a great sacrifice to make, Charlie ? " 

" It was all for love; and what won't a man do for the 
woman he loves ? " 

" Oh, Charlie, you make me so happy," she murmured, 
leaning her head on his shoulder, and looking up into his 
eyes, " so happy," 



334 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



" Besides, it was not much of a sacrifice. Tlie Red PIus- 
sars were ordered to London, and even with my accession of 
fortune I could not afford the life tliere — without being still 
more beholden to Revel than I have been and would like — 
though he is the best fellow in the world." 

" But I am still in the dark. How was it ? Begin at the 
beginning, and tell me everything. Do, please." 

" Well, when you so cruelly deserted me " 

" Don't be unkind, dear. I did no more than my duty. 
You would have done the same " 

" I am not so sure about that. When you went away I 
was terribly disappointed, and, for a while, so angry that I 
resolved to think no more about you. All the same, you were 
always in my thoughts. I found that without you life would 
not be worth living : and, before you had landed in America 
I had decided to follow you thither, and do what I knew 
would please you most — fight for the cause you love so well." 

" And are you really going to the front ? Think of the 

danger, and what will become of me if " (shuddering and 

clinging closer to him). 

Charlie smiled. 

" Wait a minute," he said. " I am not through with my 
story, yet. After I had arranged matters with Ned — he has 
made full restitution — I got an introduction to the American 
minister and some other people, wrote to Paul Coniston 
through the United States War Ofiice, and, after sending in 
my papers, set sail for New York, where I arrived three 
months ago, and where I found a letter from your cousin, 
saying that he was empowered to offer me a major's com- 
mission in his own regiment. I hope to get transferred to 
the cavalry later on, or, perhaps, a place on some general's 
staff." 

" Three months ago ! And you never let me know." 

" I had made up my mind to tell you in person, yet not 
before I had done something more than put on this uniform." 

"And what more have you done, dear ? " 

" What I never did before, fought in two losing battles. 
However, that was no fault of the Illinois fellows, they did 
their duty." 

" To think that you were in those terrible battles, and I 
didn't know it ! Suppose you had been killed. Are you 
going back ? " 



THE PKIXCES OF PEELE. 



335 



" Of course. I got three days' leave with great difficulty — 
the war is not over by a long way." 

Olive shuddered again and turned pale. 

" Three days," she cried. " But why need you go back at 
all ? You are not an American." 

" I am a soldier, and must do my duty, Olive. I thought 
you would be pleased at my joining the Union Army." 

" I am, I am so pleased that I could cry for joy. But when 
I think of the perils you have passed through, and the possi- 
ble still greater perils to come, my heart grows faint. . . . 
Of course, you must return to the front. Better that than 
dishonor ; and who am I that I should enjoy an immunity 
from suffering and anxiety in this time of trial } How will it 
end, Charlie ? These repeated defeats are very dishearten- 
ing." 

" In the triumph of the North and the restoration of the 
Union." 

" Do you really think so ? " 

" I am sure. Providence is generally on the side of the 
biggest battalions. We have the biggest battalions and the 
best equipped, and, what is of even greater importance in 
such a contest as this, the sea power. For the Rebs fight so 
superbly and are so much better handled than our fellows, 
that if they had a fleet and could keep their ports open, I 
doubt whether, despite our greater numbers, we could con- 
quer them. I am rather afraid they would conquer us." 

" Isn't it strange that men should fight so heroically for so 
bad a cause ? " 

" Well, do you know, I have rather changed my opinion 
about the cause. It is true that the South are fighting for 
the right to hold slaves ; but they are also fighting for in- 
dependence. The rank and file of their armies are not slave- 
holders, yet they fight like demons. I had an interesting 
talk the other day with a little rebel colonel, whom we took 
prisoner. He told me that he never owned a slave, and was 
strongly opposed to the war from the first. But when his 
State went out of the Union he felt it his duty to go with it 
and fight in vindication of the right of secession. I believe 
there are a great many of his way of thinking ; and though 
the Union must be restored and slavery suppressed, in the 
interest of both sections of the countr}', I cannot refuse the 
Rebs a certain measure of sympathy. Most of them are as 



336 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

patriotic, according to their lights, as you Northerners are 
according to yours. I saw those ragged heroes — some of 
them armed only with smooth-bore muskets — advance to 
the attack of an entrenched position, shouting their wild 
battle-cry, melting like snow under a fierce cross-fire, yet never 
recoiling. I felt proud that I came of the same race. I hope 
you Yankees will deal tenderly with them when all is over. 
.... But I am forgetting that I have a letter for you. Here 
it is." 

" From Paul " (opening the missive). " Have you read 
it t " 

"Of course not, nor heard it read." 

" Listen ! It is so like Paul, ' I felt sure that a man who 
could make a horse turn a somersault over a hedge, in the 
way your sweetheart did that time at All Hallows, would make 
a good soldier. And he is a good one — as good as they 
make 'em. He did us )^eoman service at Chancellorsville. 
If there were more like him, and we had a strong general in 
supreme command, and the President would hang Halleck, 
I believe we should be at Richmond in a month. The Buck- 
tails worship the little Englishman (as they call Locksley) 
and would go through fire and water for him. I think they 
would almost drink water for him, if he asked 'em. . . . 
I hope you will grant his request. He richly deserves it.' " 

" What request .'' What does he mean ? " asked Olive. 

" I want you to name the day, darling. You will, won't 
you ? " 

" But it is impossible. You are going back to the front, 
and who knows when " 

" Exactly, who knows when, if not now } I have three 
days' leave. W'hy cannot we be married to-morrow ? " 

" To-morrow ! To-morrow ! And lose you the day after ? 
Oh, Charlie ! " 

" It would be a great comfort, dear, to feel that you belong- 
to me, that we belong to each other, until death." 

" For pity's sake, don't put it in that way. Death, death," 
exclaimed Olive, in a tone of terror. '• I think we had 
better wait — but if you wish it very much let it be as you 
say." 

"Thank you, Olive, thank you very much," said Charlie 
eagerly. " You have made me very happy. And now about 
the preliminaries, for which we have not too much time. I 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 337 

suppose we shall want a license, or something of that sort." 

" I suppose so. I'll put on my things, and we will go 
and see Mr. Stretton, our clergyman. He will tell us all 
about it." 

The things were put on, and after a conference with the 
parson, arrangements were made for the marriage to take 
place on the following day. Then other calls were made ; 
Olive introduced her lover to several of her Washington 
friends, one of whom asked them to luncheon, another to 
dinner ; and after spending together the greater part of 
a happy day they separated, but only to meet again in the 
evening. 

It was past eleven when Charlie, after leaving his sweet- 
heart at the hospital, returned to his quarters. 

As he entered the hotel the secretary hailed him. 

" Here is a telegraphic despatch for you. Major Locksley," 
said he. " It came at seven o'clock. If I had known where 
you were I should have sent it on." 

Charlie's spirits went down to zero with a run, for he feared 
that the message boded no good. It was from Paul Conis- 
ton, and ran thus : 

" Leave cancelled. You are to report )'Ourself here right 
away. The Rebs are massing for a move, and fighting may 
begin any moment. You have got promotion. Don't delay 
an hour." 

" Go right away ! Not until I am married. I'll see them 
all hanged first," thought Charlie, as he crushed the 
telegram angrily in his hand. " I wish that confounded 
secretary had not given it to me. Twenty-four hours can 
make no great dift'erence, and I am on leave. They gave 
me three days ; I didn't ask for more, and by heaven I'll 
have 'em. Poor Olive, what would she think ? " 

Then, cooling down a little, he reflected that twenty-four 
hours might make a great deal of difference ; moreover, the 
Older was peremptory, and a soldier's first duty is obedience. 
If he did not obey he -would deserve to be court-martialed 
and cashiered. What would Olive say then ? What would 
his old comrades say. It was a hard case, a very hard case, 
hard to defer his marriage indefinitely, harder still to leave 
Olive without seeing her and saying farewell — the chances 
being about even that he should never see her again. It 
was out of the question to disturb her at that time of 

22 



338 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

night, and the interview, besides taking time, might shake 
his resokition. 

If he did go, and he had made up his mind to go, the 
sooner he went the better. 

His first proceeding was to send a telegram to Paul 
Coniston. " Message just received, am returning right 
away." 

Next, he wrote a brief letter to Olive, in which was 
enclosed her cousin's despatch. Words, he said, were 
powerless to describe his feelings ; he was wild with disap- 
pointment. But there was no other course, compatible 
with honor and soldierly duty, than immediate compliance 
with the order he had received. He felt sure that he was 
doing what she would wish him to do, and bade her be of 
good cheer. On the very first opportunity he should ask for 
another and a longer leave of absence, when he would claim 
the fulfillment of her promise. Meanwhile, he should 
write to her as often as possible and hoped she would write 
to him. 

This letter he confided to Captain Lawton (who had lost 
an arm at Fredericksburg and was not yet sufficiently 
recovered for active duty) and, after explaining the circum- 
stances, made him promise to give it to Miss Lincoln with 
his own hand early on the following morning. 

Half-an-hour later Major Locksley was on his way to the 
headquarters of the army of the Potomac. 



THE PKIiYCES OF PEELE. 



339 



CHAPTER XLIV. 



THE BATTLE. 



The battle of Gettysburg, which proved to be the turning 
point of the Civil War, had three distinct phases, or, rather, 
it consisted of three separate conflicts, fought on successive 
days. The first went in favor of the South ; the second was 
drawn ; the third ended in the repulse of the rebels and their 
retreat into Virginia. This event, together with the fall of 
Vicksburg and Port Hudson, which took place about the 
same time, sealed the fate of the Confederacy, and sounded 
the death knell of slavery on the North American continent. 
So far, the Southerners had been fighting for Home Rule ; 
thenceforward they fought for existence and honor, and none 
the less desperately that most of them, especially the leaders, 
foresaw the inevitable end. 

Brave men do not yield because fortune seems adverse and 
hope grows dim, and never were braver than the tattered and 
hungry veterans of the army of Virginia, whose valor and 
constancy won the ungrudging admiration of those who least 
loved the cause for which so many of them shed their blood 
and laid down their lives. 

When Charlie reported himself at headquarters he was 
rewarded for his previous services and prompt return by 
promotion to the colonelcy of his regiment, vice Coniston, 
promoted to the command of a brigade. 

" It was very rough on you and Olive," said Paul. " But 
the General insisted ; and if you had not hurried up you 
would not have got the regiment, that's a fact. And you are 
none too soon. The Rebs have crossed the Rappahanock, 
and there will be wigs on the green before long. That's 
another fact." 

During the month which preceded the decisive encounter, 
there was a good deal of promiscuous fighting, in which 
Locksley bore a part and went through unscathed. Neither 
did aught worth mentioning befall him in the first day's battle. 



340 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

The tactics of the Federals were strictly defensive ; they held 
strong positions round Gettysburg, against which, during two 
long summer days, the rebels dashed themselves like a stormy 
ocean against a rock-bound coast, but, failing in their bold 
endeavor, and their ammunition being exhausted and their 
losses appalling, gave up the contest and withdrew to their 
own country. 

Among the more important of the positions in question 
were two wooded heights, on the left of the Federal line, 
known respectively as Round Top and Little Round Top. 
On the western slope of these hills was Devil's Den, a 
rocky crest and glen, the scene of several fierce encoun- 
ters ; and a little to the north lay Trostle's Farm, the 
Hougoumont of Gettysburg. Hereabouts was the hottest 
fighting on the second day, and could the Confederates have 
captured and held these " coigns of vantage," the battle had 
been theirs. Hereabouts, too, were posted Colonel Locksley 
and his Bucktails, who met the rebels with a resolution equal 
to their own. 

It was only late in the day that the Federals realized the 
importance of Little Round Top, and they had no sooner 
occupied it with a battery and two brigades of infantry than 
the rebels began to climb the hill. Dodging from tree to 
tree, now creeping, now making a rush, they marched on, 
heedless alike of the hurricane of musketry, which tore great 
gaps in their ranks, and the hissing shell, which sent scores 
of them to their doom. Two Federal brigadier-generals 
and the officer in command of the battery were killed within 
a few minutes. 

" Hot work this," said Charlie, whose horse had just been 
shot under him, to one of his captains. 

The words were hardly spoken when the captain leaped in 
the air, then fell on his face, convulsively tearing at the grass 
iri his death agony. 

" At them with the bayonet, boys ! " shouted Locksley, 
pointing with his sword and leading the way. 

The Bucktails answered with a cheer. Then ensued a fierce 
and bloody hand-to-hand struggle. Bayonet crossed bay- 
onet, muskets were clubbed, men dashed at each other's 
throats, and, locked in each other's arms, rolled down the hill. 
Charlie had just disarmed a rebel officer, who at the same 
moment was shot through the head by a Federal sergeant, 



THE PRINCES OE PEELE. 341 

when a tall Texan went for him with his bayonet. Evading 
the stroke by a rapid movement, Charlie got inside the man's 
guard, and ran him through the body. His sword breaking 
off short, he picked up the fallen rebel's musket and fought 
with that. 

Finally the Confederates were hurled down the hill, with 
great slaughter, and the two Round Tops left in possession 
of the Federal forces. Nevertheless, the latter on the whole 
had lost ground, and at seven o'clock the position of their 
left wing was decidedly precarious. The men from the South 
had carried the Devil's Den and captured three guns, and 
now swarmed among the woods and rocks at the base of the 
Round Tops, watching for an opportunity to renew the attack. 
Some of the Federal positions had been abandoned, owing to 
the destruction of horses and drivers. Of the eighty-eight 
horses belonging to the battery which held Trestle's Farm 
only four were left alive. One loyalist division had been 
simply smashed up, another was giving way, and it looked 
as if the entire left wing would be rolled back. 

Night drew on. Yet still the battle raged ; still the com- 
bat deepened. A thick pall of smoke, illumined by incessant 
flashes of blood-red flame, hung over the field ; great guns 
roared defiance as they threw their missiles of death into the 
thick of the palpitating throng ; the shrieks of maddened 
horses mingled with the cries of wounded men ; the ground 
was slippery with blood, and strewn with the bodies of the 
slain and the dying. 

In that terrible fight Locksley lost a third of his regiment. 
As yet, however, he had not been touched. It seemed as 
though he bore a charmed life. But his time came. He had 
found another charger, and was cheering his men on, when a 
sudden rush of the rebels on their left flank forced them back 
by sheer weight of numbers, and as misfortunes never come 
singly, his horse and himself were hit at the same time. 
Both went down, and the horse falling on Locksley crushed 
his leg and pinned him to the ground. 

Just then a regiment from another corps came up at a 
run to reinforce the fighting line and an officer, observing 
Charlie's perilous position, hurried to his rescue. With the 
help of some of the Bucktails, who had rallied and re-formed, 
he raised the horse and released his fallen rider. 

" Are you much hurt ? " asked the officer. 



342 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

" I am hit, and I fear my leg is broken," answered Charlie, 
faintly. " I cannot move." 

" Take him to the rear," said the officer. 

He also had to be taken to the rear ; for even as he gave 
the order a bullet struck his neck, and he fell as if dead. 

This was one of the last episodes of the second day's 
battle. As night closed in the rebels sullenly retired, but 
they were not pursued. 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 343 



CHAPTER XLV. 

AFTER THE BATTLE. 

Charlie's sudden departure was naturally a great shock 
for his sweetheart. But the postponement of their marriage 
gave her less concern than its cause — the opening of another 
campaign and the imminence of more fighting, which meant 
peril to the cause — another defeat might be fatal — and still 
greater peril to her lover. For noblesse oblige ; as a Victoria 
Cross man he had a reputation to maintain, and would, she 
felt sure, be ever in the thick of danger, and the forefront of 
the battle. What if the Federals should be vanquished and 
Charlie slain ? Heaven forbid ! She put the foreboding 
from her, yet ever and anon it would thrust itself forward, 
making her nights wretched and wringing her soul with 
anguish. 

Often she recalled the time when she had reproached him 
for his seeming want of purpose, and he had confided to 
her his dislike of the law and regret that destiny had not 
made him a soldier. And now he was a soldier, fighting for 
the Union — and her. The thought thrilled Olive with pride. 
He was her hero : she had gained him for the cause, given 
to it what she held most precious, and if he should give to 
it his life, God's will be done. 

And yet, and yet, would it not have been better had Charlie 
remained a lawyer, and he and she had married and settled 
down in that pleasant land across the sea, and followed those 
country pursuits in which they both so much delighted. .... 
No ! That would have been unheroic, cowardly even, a clear 
evasion of duty. They had chosen the better part. When 
the war was over and the Union restored, and Charlie had 
sheathed his sword, they might revisit England, see dear 
old All Hallows again, and hunt with the Riversdale hounds 
once more. God grant it ! 

The hot June days went swiftly on, and each day brought 
news to Washington, news of mustering squadrons, of en- 



344 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 



counters with the enemy, of losses and captures, and, above 
all, of the steady advance northward of the rebel host. Men 
feared for the issue, and as the supreme moment drew near, 
their fears deepened. The Army of Virginia, emboldened 
by repeated victories, was proudly confident. Composed 
mainly of veterans, led by a captain of consummate ability, 
whose Government gave him a free hand, it was ready to go 
anywhere and do anything. 

The Army of the Potomac, on the other hand, was dis- 
couraged by defeat, in its ranks were many green recruits, 
the commander-in-chief had been changed five times in ten 
months, and the occupant of that unenviable post had to 
fight both the enemy and the chief of the staff at Washington, 
at that time the enemy's most potent ally. 

On the I St of July it was reported that Lee had attacked 
Meade in a position chosen by the latter, and that a great battle 
had begun. The result, as telegraphed to Washington the 
same night, was discouraging ; the result of the second day's 
fighting was indecisive. All the general public could make 
out was that neither army had retreated. 

Like thousands of other women at that time, Olive Lincoln 
was in an agony of apprehension and excitement. She 
trembled for her country and her lover. She -pictured him 
waving his sword, leading his men to victory, and when the 
fight was over, receiving the victor's reward. She saw him 
fighting hand-to-hand against overwhelming odds, saw him 
faint and wounded, saw him lying stark and stiff, horses 
galloping over him and men trampling on his bleeding body. 
Then she would take courage, try to persuade herself that all 
was well with him and the cause ; but though she preserved 
her outward calm and attended to her duties in the hospital, 
her mind was in a continual turmoil, and she knew no rest. 

On the evening of July 3d she received a telegram. It 
was several seconds before she could muster up courage to 
break the seal. It might either be a code of death or bring 
tidings of great joy. The sender was Paul Coniston, and 
this is what he said : 

" Locksley wounded, though not severely. He fought 
nobly and won great praise. Rebs in full' retreat." 

" That means he is severely wounded," thought Olive. 



THE PRIXCES OF PEELE. 345 

" If he had not been he would have telegraphed himself. 
Paul might have said how he was. At any rate, he is alive 
and the victory ours. I shall go to Gettysburg right away." 

She sought out Captain Lawton, with whom she had be- 
come good friends, and asked him to go with her. He con- 
sented gladly, and as soon as it was possible they set off. 

It was a memorable journey. On every hand they saw 
sights and signs that showed the terrible character of the 
struggle which had been waged among the hills and dales of 
the Quaker State — companies of Confederate prisoners under 
escort, gaunt, dirty, ragged fellows, their faces still black with 
the smoke of battle, yet stepping jauntily and bearing them- 
selves bravely — wounded soldiers, their heads bandaged, their 
arms in slings, hieing them homeward or making for Washing- 
ton — shattered buildings and trampled fields. 

Round about Gettysburg, houses, barns, churches, stables, 
were crowded with wounded, who of both armies, numbered 
upwards of twenty-four thousand ; many of the dead still lay 
unburied ; for in the three days' fighting nearly six thousand 
were sent to their last account. 

Olive and her companion had great difficulty in ascertaining 
Colonel Locksley's whereabouts ; but they eventually found 
him in the Lutheran Church at Gettysburg, which had been 
turned into a hospital. 

At the door whom should she meet but Captain Revel. 

" You here ! " exclaimed Olive. " Have you also joined 
our army ? " 

" No, I am here merely as an observer, and a student of 
the art of war, temporarily attached by special favor, to the 
staff of a general of division, I came just in time for the 
shindy." 

" Charlie ! How is he ? " 

" As well as can be expected. They have extracted the 
bullet, and his leg is not broken, only badly contused. I 
don't think he is as badly hurt as he was when he had that 
tumble into the lane and gOL his head broken." 

" My poor boy ! He is always unlucky." 

" Not a bit. The luckiest man I know. Why, he was in 
the very thick of it — I wish I had been there — and is sure to 
get his promotion, I always said he would be a general." 

" Take me to him, please." 

The wounded hero lay on a pallet, looking very pale and 



346 THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 

evidently in pain ; but when he saw Olive his eyes bright- 
ened, and a smile of gratitude lighted up his face. 

" My poor boy ! " she murmured, and stooped and kissed 
him. 

" How good of you to come, and so quickly. God bless 
you, darling," he whispered. 

" How could I help coming when I knew my dear lad was 
wounded? Paul said so little, and I feared he had not told 
me the worst." 

" He had no time to say more. He is pursuing the Rebs. 
You see that man on the next pallet ? " 

The man on the next pallet was even paler than Charlie. 
His eyes were shut and his neck was bandaged. 

" Is he dead } " 

" No ! no ! Jack ? " 

The man opened his eyes. 

" Here is somebody come to see us. Somebody you have 
heard of. Olive Lincoln — my brother Jack." 

" John Prince .'' " 

" Yes, the brave fellow came to my rescue when I was 
under my horse and could not rise, and got badly wounded 
for his pains." 

" I am sorry I cannot offer you my hand," said Jack 
feebly, " but I was hit in the neck and am completely para- 
lyzed. I cannot move a limb, and have not long to live." 

" Nonsense, old man, you will pull through. Never say 
die." 

Jack shut his eyes again. 

" I have paid back every penny," he murmured, " every 
penny. I said they should not hear of me again unless it 
was something good, and I have kept my word. ' Keep me, 
oh, keep me. King of kings, under Thine own Almighty 
wings.' The old man would have forgiven me, I am sure he 
would — and my mother " 

Olive had a happy thought. 

" Jack," she said, softly. 

Jack opened his eyes. 

" I have something to tell you. I saw your dear mother, 
not long before her death ; and she charged me, if I should 
meet you, to say that she not only forgave you with all her 
heart, but was proud of you ; she kept your likeness always 
by her, and sent you her blessing." 



THE PRINCES OF PEELE. 



347 



" Thank God ! " and he closed his eyes again, as it might 
seem, in silent prayer. 

Then he looked up. 

" I have a favor to ask of you, Olive," he said, " a last 
favor to a dying man." 

" Oh, don't talk in that way ; I will do whatever you 
want." 

" Charlie has told me about you and himself, of his great 
love for you, of the trials you have undergone, and of his 
late disappointment, and it would be a great comfort to me 
to see you married before I die." 

" Now ? " 

" Yes, right now. This is a church, and the clergyman 
was with me only a few minutes since." 

" What do you think, Charlie ? " asked Olive, turning to 
her lover with a perplexed look. 

" I think we must humor him, poor fellow. The doctors 
don't give much hope ; his life hangs on a thread, and I 
should like it immensely, Olive. You could stay with me 
altogether, and I should get better in no time." 

" Let it be so, then. I cannot do less for the dear lad 
who has done so much for me." 

On this Captain Revel was called into counsel and 
informed what had been decided. 

" The very best thing you can do," quoth he, and went to 
fetch the parson, who, on the circumstances being explained, 
willingly consented to perform the ceremony. 

And so in that church full of wounded men, amid scenes 
of suffering, and on the morrow of an epoch-making battle, 
Charlie and Olive were made man and wife. 

When the war was over they went to England, and General 
Locksley and his comely wife may still be occasionally seen 
at the covert side in a sporting county not far from the 
town of Peele. 

Jack Prince surprised everybody, and nobody more than 
himself, by getting better. After two years of suffering and 
helplessness, he regained the use of his limbs ; but he never 
regained his restive strength, and his life was not long. 

THE END. 



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